Heath pro is just one round from Muirfield

Ian Burnett of Luffenham Heath who qualifed at the course for the next round of Open qualifiers Photo: stevecarrgolf.com
Ian Burnett of Luffenham Heath who qualifed at the course for the next round of Open qualifiers Photo: stevecarrgolf.com

Monday’s windy conditions perfectly suited Ian Burnett who made the cut for the final qualifying round for the Open Championship.

The Luffenham Heath pro shot a round of 73 in tough conditions to qualify at his first attempt and is now just one round from joining the world’s top players at Muirfield in July.

Burnett was one of 13 from a field of 88 from across the Midlands who progressed from Monday’s round at Luffenham Heath.

“It is the biggest thing that I have ever played in,” said Burnett, who admitted to a few extra nerves because the event was hosted by his own club.

After a bogie on the 2nd, he recovered to finish the first nine holes two under. But a double bogie on the 10th, a bogie on the 11th and a lost ball on the 13th almost ended his chances of reaching next week’s final qualifying round.

“All the players are scratch amateurs or better and as the club pro I felt some pressure”, he added.

“I stood on the 14th and said to myself I must play good golf on all the remaining holes.” And reliable chipping and putting saw him through.

“It was very windy on Monday and that suits me.

“I need it to be nasty; the windier the better. My bad shots go low so are less affected than other players.”

On Tuesday he will fight for a place in the prestigious competition at a final qualifier at North Berwick which is one of four venues to host 72 players. Only three from each course will make it to the Open.

Leading qualifier at the Rutland course on Monday was Matthew Cort, from Rothley Park, with a fine 68 which was the only score under par and three shots ahead of the field.

The final qualifying place went to Ryan Pudney (Mundesley) in a five-man play-off of those who scored 74.

This was the first time that Luffenham Heath has hosted a qualifying round for the Open Championship, and 
officials from the Royal and Ancient congratulated the club on the condition of the course and the enthusiasm of members supporting the event.

They said it was unprecedented that as many as 135 members had volunteered for a range of duties. The club will host a regional qualifying round for the Open for the next four years.