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Golf: Garwood gunning for top-three at West Lancashire
KEVIN Garwood believes the experience of reaching the final qualifer in 2009 as an amateur will boost his Open Championship bid next month.
The 26-year-old, who turned professional a year later, made the final qualification stage for the Open Championship at Turnberry three years ago.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Garwood. “To tee up with European Tour professionals was a bit nerve-wracking, and I finished middle of the field.
“I found it a real eye-opener, but it has spurred me on to pursue my career as a touring professional.
“It was also a big learning curve and I am confident I will handle the pressure much better this time.
“I’m playing well and have confidence in my own ability to win one of the three places up for grabs at my course.”
Garwood, who is attached to Parkstone, reached final qualifying after securing the 12th and final spot at the Ferndown regional event on Monday.
He was among five players, tied on 69, who went head-to-head in a sudden-death play-off.
Included in the mix was Broadstone’s Luke Joy who was first to secure his place with a birdie, while two others parred the first.
It left Garwood and Botley Park amateur Daniel Dawson to continue following their bogey fives.
Both players chalked up threes at the second hole, before Garwood secured the final berth with a par at the 18th (third play-off hole).
Garwood, who will have fellow Parkstone member Ben Pritch-ard on the bag in Lancashire, has struggled to find the funds for a full season on the Europro Tour.
“I’ve only managed to play in two because of the difficulty in finding sponsorship,” said Garwood, who works part-time at the West Hants Club.
“I managed to finish in the top 25 in one of them, which was good, but it has been too costly for me to play regularly.”
Garwood’s former Dorset team-mate Joy, meanwhile, has made the final qualifying stage at his first attempt.
“Due to scheduling, this is the first chance I’ve had to enter the Open qualifying stages,” said Joy, who has completed a five-year golfing scholarship in the United States.
“The initial buzz of teeing up with European Tour players has gone, since they decided to have their own qualifying events, but since turning professional in March, I’m not worried about who I’m playing against.”
The 26-year-old former England junior international finished joint top with Dorset’s Lee James in a Jamega Winter Series event at High Post earlier this year.
In the final qualifying on July 3, Garwood will tee up at West Lancashire, while Joy is playing at Southport & Ainsdale.
East Dorset’s other regional qualifier Lee Thompson, who made the cut at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, will play Hillside.
Only three players from each of the four final qualifying courses will play in the main event at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 19-22.