Date: January 15, 2010

Barnes, Porter and Senior seal St Andrews berth

Barnes tore up the Kingston Heath layout with a second round eight under par 64 to finish on ten under overall, two shots ahead of overnight leader Ewan Porter (68) with Senior (70) taking third place on five under par. It was a nervous wait for 50 year old Senior who was aiming for his 18th appearance at The Open Championship and his first since 2000 when he finished 72nd at St Andrews. At six under with just a hole to play Senior bogeyed the 18th moving back to five under and narrowing the gap between himself and his nearest competitor New South Welshman Aaron Townsend. He then sat in the clubhouse watching and waiting for scores to come in before breathing a sigh of relief as he secured the third and final spot while Townsend and Victorian Steve Jones finished two shots back on three under. It feels fantastic. I thought I had blown it coming down the last couple of holes but the score hung on and I am really excited about going there, said Senior. It will be Senior s fifth showing at St Andrews after previously playing in 2000, 1995, 1990 and 1984 with his best result 14th place on debut. Whilst his best finish at The Open was in 1993 at Royal St Georges when he finished fourth it is St Andrews that he is particularly looking forward to returning. St Andrews is such a special place, the atmosphere is just fantastic and I am really going to enjoy this one. In contrast to Senior, the 2010 Open Championship will be Kurt Barnes first appearance at a Major. The affable big-hitting New South Welshman set the course alight firing a superb 8 under 64 final round to take honours on the final day after starting in fourth place and two shots off the pace. He tore up the front nine in 31 with birdies at the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 9th and came home with another four on the back nine to finish the 36 hole event on ten under par. Today was pretty solid. Only the one bogey, but I am really happy, said Barnes whose past 12 months in golf has been life-changing. Under a new team that includes a sports psychologist, financial advisor and coach Barnes broke a four year victory drought when he became the first Australian to win on the Omega China Tour after closing with an even-par 72 to seal a one-stroke victory in the RMB1.2 million Sofitel Zhongshan IGC Open in Nanjing. Prior to his victory in Nanjing his last successes had been in Australia when he won the 2005 Victorian Open, a year after claiming his first professional victory at the 2004 Queensland PGA Championship. He then followed on in December 2009 finishing as the leading qualifier at the final stage of the Japan Golf Tour and now has a ticket to his first Major Championship. When asked where he would compare his round to other rounds the 2002 Australian amateur champion replied; I reckon today is one of the best ball striking displays ever, I hit it well, I pitched it well and I also putted well so my all round game was really good. It’s one of the best rounds of golf I have ever played. Barnes could have been forgiven for thinking that it wasn t going to be such a great day after soaking himself with a breakfast drink before he teed off, but he put that behind him. I had a bad start to the morning. I spilled an orange juice down the front of my shirt so I had to go and donate ninety dollars to the Kingston Heath Golf Shop for a new one so a few of the boys said I might have to do that more often! Two rounds of 68 saw Sydney s Ewan Porter do what no other player at Australasian Qualifying has ever done qualify three times from three attempts. He qualified at both attempts at The Lakes in 2007 and 2008 and finished two shots behind Barnes today. An emotional Porter who won the 2008 Moonah Classic but has struggled with form and taken time out from the game since, revealed that this time was the sweetest. I m just over the moon. I said to my caddy Grant on the last whole that this feels better than the previous two attempts, just the fact that it s St Andrews this time. I guess I have been through so many tough times over the last couple of years but the belief and the hard work I have been doing is bearing fruit right now and I hope that this is just the kickstart to a big 2010 for me. The 2010 Open Championship will be held at the St Andrews Golf Club from July 15-18.