Tough test awaits Open hopefuls at Goswick

PLAYERS setting out on their Open Championship qualification dream have been warned to expect a stern test from Goswick this year.

The wet spring means the rough is up and par promises to be a good score when the links hosts regional qualifying for the fifth and final time on Monday.

Pro Paul Terras said: “The conditions are going to be very different for the competitors this year compared to the previous four years.

“We’ve had a wet spring so the rough is up a bit and there are places where it will be a real hack out job so there will be a greater premium on hitting the fairway.”

As with any links, the scoring on the day will depend a great deal on the weather and particularly the strength of the wind.

But even if the players are presented with a calm day, Goswick has shown it is a difficult course to bring to its knees. After all, the best score in Open qualifying over the past four years has been a 67.

“It’ll be a good test for them,” said Paul. “In the past the qualification mark has been 70 or 71 but this time around I think level par might do it.”

This year’s field includes a smattering of local talent along with several players from the continent hoping to take the next step on the way to Royal Lytham and St Anne’s from July 19-22.

First off at 8am is Goswick amateur Elliot Wilson followed in the next group by former assistant pro David Ord, now based in Sunderland.

Later starters include ex-Goswick players Neil Henderson and Ricky Lee, the host club’s Phil Swinney, Shaun Jackson from Magdalene Fields and Daniel Wood from The Hirsel.

Adding a touch of glamour to the occasion are the likes of Sebastian Shwind and Nicholas Baron from Germany, Jean-Jaques Blatti from Switzerland and Ladislav Tupa from the Czech Republic.

There is no doubt that Goswick’s status as a regional qualifying venue has given the club’s profile a huge boost.

Club chairman Barclay Forrest said: “During the five years since 2008 when we first hosted this event, the club has benefited considerably from the recognition it has received for being a first class quality golf course.

“The number of visitors playing our course has increased steadily during an extremely difficult financial period which has caused many problems for golf clubs such as ours.”

Regional qualifying will be held at the Northumberland club in 2013.