Golfer Young achieves Open dream

Golfer Mark Young
Golfer Mark Young
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Longridge golfer Mark Young has fulfilled a lifelong ambition after qualifying for The Open Championship at St Andrews later this month.

He topped the list of qualifiers at the Gailes Links course in Ayrshire and will now mix with the elite of the game at the historic home of golf on July 16 to 19.

It is an amazing feat for the 33-year-old, who has only been a professional for a few months after a hugely successful amateur career in Lancashire, where he won the county title on three occasions, the latest in 2014.

His four under par rounds of 71 and 68 were enough to make it to St Andrews.

And he revealed afterwards his score could have been even more impressive and that he had one dice with danger on the way, but still came up smiling.

Highlight of the day at the Ayrshire course where final local qualifying took place came at the 14th in his second round where he scored a birdie after very nearly firing his ball on to the adjoining railway-line with his drive

Young said: “I played very well in the morning and actually left a few shots out there.

“I putted well and when the greens are as good as this they then tend to go in.

“In the afternoon I made an interesting birdie-four at the 14th after nearly being on the train track with my drive.

“I walked off the green laughing after that!”

Young had been in confident mood before teeing up.

He said: “I had a top-10 on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Newmachar (Aberdeen) last week and that gave me a bit confidence.

“I only turned professional in November last year, having worked as a conservatory fitter prior to that.

“It was now or never.

“It will be a dream come true to play in The Open at St Andrews – where better to play in one?”

Fellow Lancastrian Paul Kinnear claimed the second spot when he birdied the first extra hole in a play-off against Kiwi Ryan Fox and Welshman Rhys Davies.

“I was shaking over my three-foot birdie putt,” said a tearful Kinnear, a 21-year-old amateur, who lives in Liverpool and plays his golf at Formby.

“It was awful waiting around to see if I was going to get into the play-off and I think that is why all the emotions came flooding out.”