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Monday, 26 May 2014
Shane Lowry   (Getty Images)
Shane Lowry (Getty Images)

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Shane Lowry took his fine form from Wentworth to Walton Heath to bag a place in the US Open Championship at Pinehurst next month.

The Irishman was runner-up in the BMW PGA Championship, and gave himself another reason to celebrate by finishing top of the pile at International Qualifying. His eight under par total – 69 on the New Course in the morning and 67 on the Old in the afternoon – was all the more impressive given the heavy rain all day at the Surrey venue.

“It was really tough out there,” said Lowry. “I played okay and putted really, really well. I holed a lot of six to eight footers for par and carried a lot of momentum in from yesterday to get the job done. I was three under this morning and this afternoon chipped in for eagle to get to five, so that got me going.

“I just tried to play steady from there and not lose my head. It was tough last week and then 36 holes in this weather was very tough. I’m looking forward to my bed tonight.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to Pinehurst. Majors are where I want to be playing. Last week I was comfortable competing down the stretch with the likes of Thomas Björn, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, so I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’ll take that with me to Pinehurst.”

A total of 105 players turned out in hope of winning one of 14 spots on offer, plus two alternates. Those to automatically win a spot were Swede Niclas Fasth, Englishmen Simon Griffiths and Graeme Storm, Germans Marcel Siem and Max Kieffer, Scotsman Chris Doak, South African Garth Mulroy and American Brooks Koepka.

Six players had to play off for the final four spots. England’s Oliver Fisher, Italian Andrea Pavan and Dane Lucas Bjerregaard all made birdie at the first extra hole to claim the first three places, and the last to make the grade was Tom Lewis, courtesy of a 30 foot putt, leaving Morten Madsen and Danny Willett as alternates.

Doak also qualified for last year’s US Open at Merion, and he said: “As a kid, you’d watch US Opens, it’s a special thing. I’m really glad to be going back again. I continued the form I had at Wentworth. I shot four under this morning so it was just a question of not doing anything silly this afternoon, hitting the middle of the greens and taking opportunities when they came along.”

Kieffer will be playing in his first Major Championship, and even fancies his chances at Pinehust. “Normally I play well on tough courses, so even though I haven’t been there yet, I think I can do well,” said. “To make it to my first Major is awesome. It’s going to be great for my game and you can only take positives from something like this.”

His compatriot, Siem, added: “It’s always been a dream of mine to play at Pinehurst. I’ve played it so many times on the Playstation. I had a great week at Wentworth and I’ve just got to keep this going now.”

Storm outscored playing partner Padraig Harrington, the three-time Major Champion, and he was delighted with his performance.

“I played fantastic today and I had a great partner in Padraig,” he said. “I’ve not had a great season so far, so hopefully this can kick-start the year, and I can put in a good performance at a Major. I’ve played in one Major before but didn’t play very well. Hopefully this time I can play a lot better.”

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