David Higgins in action at Wentworth last month. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ie..Waterville’s David Higgins was denied by a couple of tour veterans and an Argentinian as he came up just one stroke short of forcing a play-off for a place in the Open at Local Final Qualifying.

With three spots at Royal Lytham to play for at each of the four qualifying venues, the 40-year old was well placed after an opening 69 at St Annes Old Links.

He was tied for a second when he posted a second round 70 to get to five under par but then came the hammer blows. Barry Lane, 52, chipped in for an eagle at the last for a 70 to join 21-year old debutant Rafael Echenique on six under before 48-year old Paul Broadhurst shot a 67 to take top spot on seven under.

Broadhurst will make his 15th Open Championship appearance and will have fond memories of Royal Lytham & St Annes after winning the Silver Medal for finishing as low amateur in 1988.

Irish Amateur Open winner Gavin Moynihan of The Island) finished on level par (71 73) with Simon Ward (73 73) two over and Eamonn Brady (75 78) nine over.

At Hillside, 2009 Walker Cup player Dale Whitnell (68 67-135) topped the leaderboard on nine-under from  Warren Bennett (68 68-136) and England’s Steven Tiley (69 69-138) with Royal Dublin’s Patrick Devine on 149 and Carrickfergus pro Ross Oliver well down the leaderboard on 157.

Three Irish players were in action at Southport and Ainsdale where a play-off decided the final berths after Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen had finished outright leader on eight under par (65 71-136).

Royal Liverpool’s Ian Keenan (70 68-138) and Scotland’s Elliot Saltman (68 70-138) beat Scotsman Chris Doak in a three-man playoff for two spots on six under as, who finished double-bogey, bogey, to find himself in a tie for second.

Colm Moriarty (2 under) and West Waterford amateur Kevin Phelan (1 under) performed well by Big Break Ireland winner Mark Murphy, struggling after an opening 76, was disqualified.

“No joy in British open qualifier, cold putter & some serious shit breaks including a 2 shot penalty after I finished,” Murphy twold his twitter followers.

New Zealand’s Steven Alker topped the field at West Lancashire, posting rounds of 69 and 68 to secure his third Open start as Royal Dublin amateur Sean Ryan finished on eight over after rounds of 79 and 73.

A play-off decided the final two spots with American Scott Pinckney and former GB&I 2001 Walker Cup winner Steven O’Hara emerging victorious at the expense of Welsh amateur Richard Bentham and first round leader Marty Jertson of the US. 

Former Boys Amateur Champion O’Hara took five play-off holes to finally seal his Open debut.

Pinckney, who qualified for the 2011 US Open as an amateur, shot the professional course record in his second round with a fantastic eight-under 64, chipping in twice as he played his closing nine holes in seven-under 29.

“It is going to be really special to play in an Open and I still can’t quite believe it,” said Pinckney, a boyhood friend of Rory McIlroy’s.

“To be seven under for my last nine holes and having a four foot putt for a birdie at the last hit a spike mark and miss - is just fantastic.”

Hillside (6 under or better qualified)

Patrick Devine (Royal Dublin) 74 75 +5
Ross Oliver (Carrickfergus) 78 79 +13

Southport & Ainsdale (6 under or better)
Colm Moriarty (Glasson) 73 69 -2
Kevin Phelan* (Waterford Castle) 72 71 -1
Mark Murphy (Unatt) 76 DQ

St Annes Old Links (6 under or better)
David Higgins (Waterville) 69 70 -5
Gavin Moynihan* (The Island) 71 73 E
Simon Ward (Co Louth) 73 73 +2
Eamonn Brady (Clontarf) 75 78 +9

West Lancashire (5 under or better)
Sean Ryan* (Royal Dublin) 79 73 +8