AUSSIE GOLFERS Steven Jeffress and Stephen Dartnall are the lucky two local qualifiers for the 2013 British Open after the International Final Qualifying Australasia.
They will be joined by New Zealander Mark Brown who set a course record 10-under 62 to win the two-day event at the Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne.
It will be the first Major appearance for the Australian golfers while it will be Brown’s second Open Championship.
It was all still sinking in for 37 year old Jeffress, who has been a pro since 1999.
“It’s pretty impressive – it probably hasn’t even sunk in yet, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be unbelievable,” said Jeffress, originally from the NSW north coast.
“I had a number that I wanted to get to, 10-under. I thought if I get to that then it’s going to be competitive.”
He shot a final round 5-under 67 to finish the event on 9-under, one behind Brown and a stroke in front of Dartnall (68).
“I had 2-under around the front nine and then I parred through to 15 which I was pretty frustrated at,” he said.
“I said to my caddy that we have to do something here because only the top-3 get in and then I birdied 15 and 16.”
Brown shot an even par 72 in the first round and started the second day five shots off the pace. He went on to fire an eagle and eight birdies to shoot his 10-under 62, beating the previous course record of 63 set by amateur Cruze Strange.
“Yesterday I was a fair way back, so today I wasn’t really thinking about it too much – I just went out and tried to enjoy it.” said Brown.
“I made six birdies in the first nine, then it got serious and it wasn’t so much fun anymore.”
“But it’s massive. I love this place and I played well here in November,” added Brown who finished tied third at the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath last year.
“I’ve got so much respect for the place; it’s quite a thrill to hold the course record.”
Brown is proud to become New Zealand’s first representative into the 42nd Open Championship, to be held at Muirfield golf club in Scotland from the 14 – 21 July.
“If there’s one major you want to play, for me this would be it,” he said.
“I hope it’s a big thrill, it’s not every major New Zealand has someone playing.”
Brown played in the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry where he missed the cut. He qualified thanks to his order of merit finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Also headed to his first Major championship is 29 year old West Australian Dartnall, who turned pro in 2007 after being ranked as the world’s top amateur.
Dartnall has had a tough time since, particularly on the Web.com Tour in the US, but seems to have regained his spark after return to coach Lyndsay Stephen, the popular PGA Legends Tour player.
He finished tied for eighth in December’s Australian PGA Championship and then led the recent Victorian PGA at Creswick at the halfway mark before finishing third.
“I started off a bit scratchy actually – I was 1-over after six then made a few birdies and just played solid from there on in. It wasn’t quite as good as [Tuesday] but it was enough, I guess,” said Dartnall, who was joint leader after the first round.British Open IFQ 2013 Final Resuls