Lawrie clinches US Open debut after play-off
 Peter Lawrie got a close up view of the US Open trophy during the BMW PGA last week. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ie

Peter Lawrie got a close up view of the US Open trophy during the BMW PGA last week. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ie

Just 24 hours after finishing fourth in the BMW PGA at Wentworth, Peter Lawrie claimed one of 11 places on offer in Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath to secure his US Open debut at the Olympic Club in San Francisco from June 14-17.

Playing some of the best golf of his life, the 38-year old Dubliner opened with a five under par 67 on the New Course and then added a one under 71 on the Old to finish in a five-way tie for eighth place.

With Swede Alex Noren and Scot Marc Warren topping the leaderboard from England’s Lee Slattery, Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, Finn Mikko Ilonen, South African George Coetzee and Dane Søren Kjeldsen, that left Lawrie in a five-way play-off for the last four spots with England’s Matthew Baldwin, Italian Matteo Manassero, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Korean Sihwan Kim.

Baldwin and Manassero birdied the first extra hole, leaving Kim, Jacquelin and Lawrie to fight for the two remaining spots on the second extra hole.

And it was Challenge Tour Member Kim who fell by the wayside after failing to get up and down for par from the greenside bunker, securing what will be Lawrie’s second appearance in a major following his debut in the 2005 Open Championship at St Andrews, where he missed the cut.

Speaking before the start of the season, the 2008 Spanish Open winner said he was determined to play in more majors, describing his record as “horrendous.”

“This will be my 10th year on tour and I have only ever played in one major at St Andrews in 2005. To me that’s horrendous. It does gnaw away a little bit and it’s something I’d love to put right.

“When you see players who feel you are as good as having played in many, many more majors, it’s disappointing. It’s something on my to do list.”

Noren, who will defend his ISPS Handa Wales Open title this week, and Warren, whose afternoon round of 65 on the New Course was the lowest of the day, cruised through the qualifier on nine under par, two shots clear of Slattery, Bourdy, Ilonen, Coetzee and Kjeldsen.

Shane Lowry (72-70) missed out on the play-off places by four shots with Gary Murphy (73-71) six off the pace. Gareth Maybin retired after an opening 72.

Scotland’s Warren spoke to close pal Maybin about the course last week - the Ulsterman played it before the own US Open debut at Pebble Beach in 2010 - and he expects it to be a major challenge.

Warren said: “He told me the course is pretty brutal. But I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the experience, and if I can take the mindset I had today into the tournament, hopefully I can give a good account of myself.”

Noren will be making his second US Open Championship appearance, having successfully qualified at Walton Heath 12 months ago, and the Swede is determined to improve on his tied 51st finish at Congressional Country Club last year.

He said: “I’m very happy. I was really tired this morning after Wentworth last week, but now I feel a lot better. I managed to keep the ball in play all day, which is key because if you don’t, you’re going to get punished. So I’m really pleased with my driving.

“When I qualified here last year, it really turned my season around because I won in Wales the week after. I’ve always wanted to play the US Open, and it really spurred me on for the rest of the season. Hopefully this year will be the same.”

Manassero also made his US Open Championship debut last year, and after securing a second appearance the young Italian is keen to enhance his burgeoning reputation.

He said: “It feels great, especially to do it with a birdie in the play-off. There was a lot of tension, because there was so much to play for. So it means a lot to me to get my place, and I’m really looking forward to going back to play in America.

“It should be a great experience, and I’ve heard really good things about the course. There are lots of World Ranking points available, so hopefully I can play well and climb the Rankings and The Race to Dubai. Everybody wants to play in the big tournaments, and they don’t come much bigger than the US Open. I can’t wait.”                  

Despite highly encouraging morning displays, Colin Montgomerie and José María Olazábal, Ryder Cup Captains past and present, will not be making the trip to San Francisco after carding respective afternoon rounds of 72 and 74.

US Open Championship, International Sectional Qualifier, Walton Heath

Final scores

Pos Player Country R1 R2 Agg Par

1 Alexander NOREN SWE 67 68 135 -9

Marc WARREN SCO 70 65 135 -9

3 Lee SLATTERY ENG 71 66 137 -7

Grégory BOURDY FRA 67 70 137 -7

Mikko ILONEN FIN 66 71 137 -7

George COETZEE RSA 66 71 137 -7

Søren KJELDSEN DEN 68 69 137 -7

8 Matthew BALDWIN ENG 67 71 138 -6

Matteo MANASSERO ITA 69 69 138 -6

Peter LAWRIE IRL 67 71 138 -6

Raphaël JACQUELIN FRA 70 68 138 -6

——————players above qualified ——————

Sihwan KIM KOR 66 72 138 -6 (1st ALTERNATE)

13 Jeev Milkha SINGH IND 71 68 139 -5 (2nd ALTERNATE)

Benjamin HEBERT FRA 70 69 139 -5

Grégory HAVRET FRA 71 68 139 -5

Niclas FASTH SWE 67 72 139 -5

Ross McGOWAN ENG 73 66 139 -5

Richard BLAND ENG 67 72 139 -5

19 Colin MONTGOMERIE SCO 68 72 140 -4

Stephen GALLACHER SCO 67 73 140 -4

Joel SJÖHOLM SWE 70 70 140 -4

Thomas AIKEN RSA 72 68 140 -4

Robert COLES ENG 72 68 140 -4

Jorge CAMPILLO ESP 70 70 140 -4

25 Oscar FLOREN SWE 71 70 141 -3

José María OLAZÁBAL ESP 67 74 141 -3

Markus BRIER AUT 69 72 141 -3

Chris WOOD ENG 70 71 141 -3

29 Bernd WIESBERGER AUT 70 72 142 -2

Shane LOWRY IRL 72 70 142 -2

Andrew JOHNSTON ENG 74 68 142 -2

Ross FISHER ENG 71 71 142 -2

Thorbjørn OLESEN DEN 70 72 142 -2

34 Marcel SIEM GER 71 72 143 -1

Pablo LARRAZÁBAL ESP 66 77 143 -1

Carlos DEL MORAL ESP 73 70 143 -1

Darren FICHARDT RSA 68 75 143 -1

Mohd SIDDIKUR BAN 70 73 143 -1

Ricardo SANTOS POR 74 69 143 -1

40 Romain WATTEL FRA 71 73 144 0

Gary BOYD ENG 72 72 144 0

Johan EDFORS SWE 69 75 144 0

Jean-Baptiste GONNET FRA 73 71 144 0

Gary MURPHY IRL 73 71 144 0

45 Rikard KARLBERG SWE 74 71 145 1

Rhys DAVIES WA 73 72 145 1

Simon KHAN ENG 75 70 145 1

Alejandro CAÑIZARES ESP 71 74 145 1

Matthew ZIONS AUS 71 74 145 1

Peter HEDBLOM SWE 73 72 145 1

Fabrizio ZANOTTI PAR 68 77 145 1

Andrea PAVAN ITA 69 76 145 1

53 Jbe KRUGER RSA 69 77 146 2

Tommy FLEETWOOD ENG 71 75 146 2

55 Anton HAIG RSA 73 74 147 3

Himmat RAI IND 74 73 147 3

57 Marcus FRASER AUS 72 76 148 4

Scott HEND AUS 76 72 148 4

59 Sean WHIFFIN ENG 70 79 149 5

Tom LEWIS ENG 73 76 149 5

61 Anirban LAHIRI IND 73 77 150 6

62 Richard MCEVOY ENG 77 74 151 7

63 Zhiqun LAM SIN 75 77 152 8

Michael JONZON SWE 76 76 152 8

65 Oskar HENNINGSSON SWE 73 80 153 9

66 Ian KEENAN ENG 77 77 154 10

67 Andrew DODT AUS 68 RT 190 -4

Scott JAMIESON SCO 76 WD 190 4

Gareth MAYBIN NIR 72 RT 190 0

Richie RAMSAY SCO 80 WD 190 8

Pelle EDBERG SWE 74 WD 190 2

Lorenzo GAGLI ITA 78 WD 190 6

Brett RUMFORD AUS 73 WD 190 1

Edoardo MOLINARI ITA 79 WD 190 7

Julien QUESNE FRA 75 WD 190 3

Fredrik ANDERSSON HED SWE 75 WD 190 3

Shiv KAPUR IND 74 WD 190 2

George MURRAY SCO 72 RT 190 0

Thomas LEVET FRA 73 RT 190 1

80 Pablo MARTIN ESP RT 190 0

José Manuel LARA ESP RT 190 0