The sun shone and would-be Open hopefuls gathered at Gowick on Monday for the regional qualifier.
It was the fifth and final year that the Berwick course was being used for qualification, and in many respects it saved the best til last, with scores being posted the lowest recorded over the duration of their agreement with the R&A.
One of the early pace-setters was Bedlingtonshire’s Matthew Webb, who carded a 70, and he stated at the time that he thought it would be good enough to get him through to one of the four final qualification rounds, the lucky few going through to The Open Championship itself, which this year is being held at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s in Lancashire between July 19-22.
But in the end it wasn’t as there were no fewer than eight scores of sub-70 - and as the previous best qualifying score over the links had been 69 it showed just how well the course was playing.
The rough managed to claim a few victims, however, with some players reporting that they had lost as many as half a dozen balls.
A total of 68 players took to the course aiming for qualification and leading the way were two six under par 66’s posted by Andrew Scrimshaw of Close House and Alex Wrigley of Hartlepool.
Dundonald’s Iain Colquhoun was just a shot behind with Baberton’s Paul Ferrier just a shot back from that on 68.
For a long time it looked as if the seven automatic qualifying places up for grabs would be identified without the need for a play-off.
But late in the afternoon Mark Kerr of Marriott Dalmahoy sneaked in with 69 and that was good enough to place him in a four-man sudden-death play-off with Cameron Marr of Musselburgh, William Bowe of Workington and Michael Stewart of Troon Welbeck who were all anxiously waiting in the clubhouse.
In the play-off Kerr, Bowe and Stewart all qualified with Marr missing out. He now goes forward to final qualifying as one of the reserves along with five others, who missed the cut by just one stroke after shooting two under par 70s.
The home-based Phil Swinney was one of six who were just a shot further back on 71, another being Daniel Kay of Dunbar.
Other local interest centred around Sean Jackson of Magdalene Fields who hit 76, the same score as former Goswick and now Sunderland player David Ord and another ex-Berwick player in Neil Henderson.
Daniel Wood of The Hirsel at Coldstream hit 78, whilst Goswick’s Elliott Wilson returned a disappointing 79.
After his round Scrimshaw said: “I was pleased with my performance because I played for position with irons off the tees. I kept everything tidy.
“I played well within myself rather than going for everything with my driver like I usually do. If my putting had been hot it could have been a 62.”
Leading local, Swinney, who is also a member of the Northumberland Club, where qualifying will move to next season, added:
“I’m pleased to have posted a decent score, but a couple of shots saved here of there might have made all the difference.”
Leading scorers were: Andrew Scrimshaw, Close House 66, Alex Wrigley, Hartlepool 66, Iain Colquhoun, Dundonald Links 67, Paul Ferrier (A), Baberton 68, Cameron Marr (A), Musselburgh 69, Mark Kerr, Marriott Dalmahoy 69 , William Bowe (A), Workington 69, Michael Stewart, Troon Welbeck 69, Tom Higson, Tomhigsongolf.com 70, Ross Dixon, Renaissance Club 70, David Clark, Morpeth 70, Mathew Webb (A), Bedlingtonshire 70, Ricky Lee (A), Tyneside 70, Phil Swinney (A), Berwick 71, Michael Nesbit, Westerhope 71, James Wilkinson, Brampton 71, Daniel Kay, Dunbar 71, Mark Penny, Morpeth 71, Ed Wood, Crowwood 71.