Aaron Townsend, Ashley Hall and Nick Cullen took the top three spots after a day of brutal conditions – and a playoff – at the Australasia International Final Qualifying (IFQ) at Kingston Heath Golf Club today.
Melbourne ran true to form and really turned on some unseasonally cold weather with wind gusts over 90km and lightning storms forcing players off the course for over two hours before Townsend eventually finished atop the leaderboard with a 4-under-par 140 for the two rounds.
“It was such a grind out there today it was so hard to hit the right club any kind of distance so it was just a guessing game,” the 30 year old said.
“Thankfully my short game was brilliant, I was able to hit the ball up and down a lot and just keep things going along in the right direction.
“It’s fantastic it’s going to finally sink in over tonight and tomorrow but I couldn’t be happier.”
Whilst Townsend was counting his blessings Senior, Hall and Cullen were forced into a playoff after they tied for second on 143.
Playing the par 5 seventh into a fierce south-westerly Senior misdirected his second shot and couldn’t match the birdies posted by his younger companions.
Hall, a former Victorian Open and Victorian PGA Champion, was happy to have finally qualified for The Open, to be played this year at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July.
“It’s amazing I have been thinking about this ever since they brought the IFQ out to Australia so I have had a few goes at this, at least five or six, so I am pretty pumped right now,” he said.
“This is exactly like the British Open is going to be, my short game is going to be important so I just have to stay pretty patient and I was patient today.”
For all three this will be their first trip to a Major Championship yet 27-year-old Cullen, the youngest of the trio isn’t intimidated by the prospect.
“I really haven’t had time to think about it too much, of course you always dream of playing majors when you are a kid and playing next to the best guys in the world and I am just looking forward to a chance to do that,” he said.