Date: January 30, 2013
Author: Golf Australia

Brown, Dartnall, Jeffress qualify for Muirfield

New Zealand s Mark Brown set a new course record at Kingston Heath Golf Club on his way to qualifying for The Open Championship via International Final Qualifying Australasia. While Brown was elated, it was agony for recently crowned Australian Amateur champion and National Squad member Cameron Smith who slipped from a tie for second after 33 holes to fourth after double bogey on the 16th hole which cost him a chance to qualify. Brown started the day at even par and five shots off the pace but caught fire with an eagle and eight birdies to shoot 10-under 62, beating the previous course record of 9-under 63 set by amateur Cruze Strange. Yesterday I was a fair way back, so today I wasn&apost 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&apost so much fun anymore. But it&aposs massive. I love this place and I played well here in November, added Brown who finished tied third at the Australian Masters here last year. “I&aposve got so much respect for the place; it&aposs quite a thrill to hold the course record. Brown is proud to become New Zealand s first representative into the 2013 Open Championship but hopes a strong contingent of Kiwis will join him. If there&aposs one major you want to play for me, this would be it, added Brown whose best performance in a Major was 24th at the 2008 US Open Championship. I hope it&aposs a big thrill, it&aposs not every major New Zealand has someone playing.” I hope we get another couple in, Cambo and maybe someone else through qualifiers. This will be Brown s second Open Championship – thanks to his order of merit finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia he qualified for the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry where he missed the cut. Also qualifying into the world oldest golf championship via International Final Qualifying Australasia were Steven Jeffress on 9-under 63 and Stephen Dartnall on 8-under 64. It’s still yet to sink in for Jeffress that at 37 years of age he will tee it up in his first Major championship thanks to a composed round. 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 immediately following his round. 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. I had 2-under around the front nine and then I parred through to 15 which I was pretty frustrated at. 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. Also headed towards his first Major championship is West Australian Stephen Dartnall thanks to two solid performances at Kingston Heath. 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 yesterday but it was enough, I guess, said Dartnall. I have never played a major before so will be a good learning experience, to go there and obviously try and play well. The 42nd Open Championship will be played at Muirfield from the 14-21 July 2013.