Date: April 04, 2009

Stewart grabs Open spot

Australian Tim Stewart, who just missed out on a place in The Open two years ago, survived a nine-man play-off for the final spot for the tournament at the 36-hole Asian qualifier in Singapore. Stewart, runner-up to American Drew Weaver in the 2007 British Amateur, joined compatriot Terry Pilkadaris, Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar and China&aposs Liang Wen-chong in filling the four places on offer after overnight leader Mikko Ilonen crashed to a second round 77. “It&aposs pretty heart-stopping stuff out there. I&aposve already booked a taxi to the airport and was called back for the playoff,” Stewart, 24, said. Bhullar won the event after a four-under-par 67 took him to six-under, while Liang&aposs 66 lifted him into second place two behind. Pilkadaris, who made his maiden Open appearance at Carnoustie in 2007 after qualifying through IFQ South Africa, was a shot further back following a 72. “I thought I had missed my chance with the way I played today. I put myself under lots of pressure by hitting into the trees with my drives and was always scrambling to recover,” said the 35-year-old. “I had to wait around for a couple of hours and finally when the news came, I was really relieved.” Among those who lost the play-off to Stewart were 17-year-old Korean Noh Seung-yul and Singapore amateur Quincy Quek. The 20-year-old Bhullar said: “I&aposve been watching The Open since I was a kid and to actually get to play there is truly a dream come true.” Liang played all rounds at Birkdale last year and Pilkadaris at Carnoustie in 2007. Pilkadaris and Stewart head to Turnberry alongside Australasian IFQ candidates Josh Geary (New Zealand), Tim Wood and Michael Wright. The trio earned their starts after their top-three finishes at Kingston Heath in February. Two further qualifying events remain, in the US in May and England in June.