21 JUNE, 2022 - SHANK MEDIA, BY MATT HOOPER: MATT FITZPATRICK FULFILLED A LIFELONG DREAM OF WINNING A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN HE DRAMATICALLY CLAIMED THE US OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP ON SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE COUNTRY CLUB. BUT FOR MANY JUST PLAYING IN A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP IS THE DREAM, SO IMAGINE WHAT IT MUST BE LIKE FOR LOCAL GOLFERS IN THIS AREA WHEN THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS TO THE OLD COURSE EVERY 5 YEARS. THEN ADD IN THE FACT THAT THIS YEAR IS THE 150TH OPEN AND THE FIRST FOR 7 YEARS AFTER COVID-19 FORCED THE POSTPONEMENT OF THE 2020 CHAMPIONSHIP.
ON MONDAY SOME 21 GOLFERS FROM THE AREA HEADED TO PANMURE TO TAKE PART IN REGIONAL QUALIFYING ON THE FORMIDABLE ANGUS COURSE WHICH SERVED AS BEN HOGAN'S PREPARATION FOR WINNING THE 1953 OPEN AT CARNOUSTIE. THE PAR 70 LINKS IS A TIGHT AND DEMANDING TEST OF EVERY FACET OF THE GAME, AND FEATURES NARROW FAIRWAYS, PENAL ROUGH AND SMALL, BUT UNDULATING AND FAST GREENS, WITH PUNISHING BUNKERS. THE COURSE WAS PLAYING FIRM AND FAST AFTER A WARM AND DRY EARLY SUMMER, MAKING THOSE NARROW FAIRWAYS EVEN MORE CHALLENGING TO HIT.
15 PLAYERS BROKE PAR AND THE CUT TO QUALIFY FELL AT 2-UNDER-PAR, WITH 7 PLAYERS PLAYING OFF FOR 5 SPOTS IN FINAL QUALIFYING NEXT MONDAY. SANDY SCOTT FROM NAIRN WON THE QUALIFIER WITH A STUNNING ROUND OF 65, WITH IRELAND'S THOMAS FINNEGAN IN SECOND PLACE WITH A ROUND OF 66.
TIED FOR THIRD PLACE WAS THE 2014 AMATEUR CHAMPION, BRADLEY NEIL, DRUMOIG'S ALAN BERRINGTON AND ST ANDREWS' JOHN PATERSON (NEW GOLF CLUB), ALL OF WHOM SHOT ROUNDS OF 67, 3-UNDER-PAR. FORMER EUROPEAN TOUR PRO PETER WHITEFORD WAS AMONG THOSE WHO QUALIFIED WITH A SCORE OF 68, ALONGSIDE BOLIVIA'S JAMES ARANDIA.
SO ALAN BERRINGTON AND JOHN PATERSON WILL HEAD TO FINAL QUALIFYING NEXT MONDAY WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE AND MAKE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE OLD COURSE, AND PLAY IN THE 150TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP.
BERRINGTON REPRESENTS NEARBY DRUMOIG, THE PLACE WHERE LOCAL DP WORLD TOUR PLAYER CONNOR SYME CUT HIS TEETH, AND BERRINGTON IS THE CLUB CHAMPION AT THE FIFE RESORT, SOME 9 MILES NORTH-WEST OF ST ANDREWS.
Alan is also a st Andrews links caddie and is potentially just two rounds away from creating a bit of a fairytale story.
Alan was born in Dundee before moving to Canada with his Mum, Dad & Brother Paul, AND Alan moved back to Dundee 15 years ago. HE caddied in St Andrews for several years and has also caddied in Europe on various tours.
IN ADDITION TO BEING THE CLUB CHAMPION AT DRUMOIG HE also holds the course record which he broke last season.
Alan plays on the Bunkered Back to Golf Tour where he currently leads the order of merit.
HE had managed to get a practice round in on Sunday so knew what lay ahead AT THE FORMIDABLE PANMURE GOLF CLUB. HE Went through his usual warm up including UNIQUELY hitting a few balls in his bare feet (APPARENTLY THIS ALLOWS him feel connected).
THE DUNDONIAN decided during his practice round that he needed to be fairly aggressive, so knew exactly what he was prepared to hit and where. Irons off the tee would be leaving him longer irons in so the plan was to try and get as far up the fairways as possible.
HIS Short game and putting held up well and getting the 3 birdies in the first 4 holes gave him the confidence that if he lost anything to the course he’d have a chance of getting it back. HE MADE 6 birdies during the round, BUT ON A COURSE WHICH IS RELENTLESS HE WAS more THAN happy to post the 67.
POTENTIALLY BOTH JOHN AND ALAN WON'T HAVE FAR TO TRAVEL TO FINAL QUALIFYING, WITH ONE OF THE SITES BEING THE FAIRMONT ST ANDREWS ON THE TORRANCE COURSE.
Alan hasn’t played fairmont at competition level but knows the course and like his other events he’ll do as much prep as is possible. AT THE TIME OF WRITING Fairmont still isn’t confirmed but it is Alan’s first choice.
ALAN WILL BE JOINED AT FINAL QUALIFYING BY JOHN PATERSON. JOHN HAS ACHIEVED MUCH IN THE GAME AT THE AGE OF 22 INCLUDING WINNING THE SCOTTISH BOYS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2017, THE CAMERON CORBETT VASE IN 2018 AND THE R&A LOCAL CLUBS' GOLD MEDAL IN 2019.
JOHN FIRST CAME TO THE ATTENTION OF MYSELF WHEN HE WAS A JUNIOR AND I WAS WORKING AT THE NEW GOLF CLUB, AND IN THE AUTUMN OF 2016 HE STEPPED IN FOR HUGH GRANT TO PLAY IN THE ALFRED DUNHILL LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP ON A MEMORABLE SATURDAY ON THE OLD COURSE, GIVING HIM VITAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING PART OF SUCH A BIG EVENT AT THE TENDER AGE OF 16. JOHN WON THE 2016 ALFRED DUNHILL LINKS SCHOOLS CHALLENGE, PLAYED AT THE DUKE'S COURSE, HIS FIRST SIGNIFICANT WIN AND THE START OF HIS JOURNEY TO A PLACE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO.
WHILST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO JOHN HAS PLAYED IN 38 TOURNAMENTS WITH 13 TOP 30 FINISHES, AND THE HIGH LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN AMERICAN COLLEGE GOLF HAS UNDOUBTEDLY IMPROVED THE LEVEL OF HIS GAME AND COMPETITIVENESS IN THE BIGGEST EVENTS. WITH JOHN'S COLLEGE CAREER COMING TO ITS END, THIS SUMMER COULD BE A GOLDEN FINAL FLOURISH IF HE MAKES DREAMS COME TRUE BY QUALIFYING FOR THE 150TH OPEN AT HIS HOME COURSE, THE OLD COURSE, ST ANDREWS.
SHANK WILL HAVE COVERAGE OF THE FINAL QUALIFYING FROM THE FAIRMONT ST ANDREWS NEXT MONDAY, 28 JUNE WITH UPDATES FROM BOTH JOHN AND ALAN'S ROUNDS ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, A POST TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP AND REPORT ON SHANKMEDIA.CO.UK/THE150THOPEN, AND IMAGES FROM MATT HOOPER ACROSS THE WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER