Australia will have a big playing contingent of at least 15 in the Open Championship at St Andrews this month.
Scott Arnold, the Sydney professional, is the latest to have made the 156-man field after he passed through qualifying at Hillside Golf Club in southern England today. Afterward, he was rapt to have a chance to play at St Andrews again.
"I finished second in the St Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur in 2007 and played there in the Dunhill Links in 2009. It’s a very special place," said Arnold.
It takes the Australian group to 15, with several more opportunities to grab places in the field this weekend. Over the next fortnight the Greenbier Classic and the John Deere Classic on the United States PGA Tour offer rewards of positions in the Open field.
Eight Australians teed it up at Royal Liverpool last year, but there have been periods when the field was chock-full of Aussies. The record number is believed to be the 21 who teed it up at St Andrews in 2005 when Tiger Woods won, while there were 20 in the field in 2006.
But 15 is an impressive number, almost 10 percent of the field.
Arnold, Steven Bowditch and Matt Jones won their places in the field over the past few days, with Bowditch getting in on Fedex Cup points, and Matt Jones on his world ranking of 67th. Arnold, 29, reached his first Open Championship field by carding 68-73 to tie-first in the qualifying event at Hillside.
There are still a cluster of Australians trying to scramble their way into the field at St Andrews, the fabled home of golf. At White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, this week, the top four players not already qualified for the Open will automatically find their way into the field, provided they finish top-10 in the tournament.
Among those trying are Victorians Aaron Baddeley, Robert Allenby and Cameron Percy.
The Open Championship is to be played from 16 July.
AUSTRALIANS AT ST ANDREWS