Higgins and Kehoe qualify for Open

By Brian Keogh

Tour strugglers David Higgins and Justin Kehoe clinched dream tickets for next week's Open at Carnoustie.

Waterville wonder Higgins, 34, scorched to a sensational a seven-under par 66 to take the second qualifying spot at Donwnfield on nine-under par.

And he was joined in the game's oldest major by Shinrone native Kehoe, who hit a three-under par 68 at Montrose to clinch the last available place on offer at seven under par.
Higgins beamed: "I'm delighted. To be honest, it's a dream come true having grown up on a links course.

"It gives me a good chance now. I'm a good links player and I'm really looking forward to it.

"It's something I grew up wishing to play in. I've been playing well the last few months. I'm playing well going into it and I'm confident and can't wait for it."

Higgins lost his European Tour card last year and failed to win it back at the Q-School.

But it has been even tougher for Birr player Kehoe, 27, who has made just £604.66 in seven appearance on the third tier Europro Tour this season.

As he prepared to play in the €6.2 million Open Championship, Kehoe said: "I feel a little bit of disbelief I suppose. I am very surprised that no people came in and didn't at least match my score.

"When I played there wasn't much wind and a score was very much on. I thought a play-off would be the best that I could hope for and I am surprised that nobody matched my score and only one person finished on six under. I am amazed.

"It is a dream come true. When you are growing up and practising you dream about the Open and being around great players. So I am delighted."

Higgins has tried to qualifying for the Open every year since he turned professional in 1994.

Now Ireland will have six players in the season's third major with Higgins and Kehoe joining Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Graeme McDowell in the field.

Kehoe said: "It's great but the real work starts now. It is all very well to play in it but I would like to acquit myself fairly well. Trying to keep working and doing the things I have been doing recently."

Three birdies and one bogey left Kehoe in a precarious position on six-under par with two to play before he clinched his Open place with a nine-iron to 15 inches at the last.

But it was even hotter stuff from Higgins, who had an eagle and six birdies in his 66.