Ashley Hall and Aaron Townsend have booked their tickets for the 2012 Open Championship.
The Australian duo joined countryman Nick Cullen, who played a sprinkling of OneAsia events last season, in qualifying for the third Major of the year.
Hall and Townsend finished 14th and 16th respectively on OneAsia last season and their exploits at Australasia International Final Qualifying will give them confidence for the year ahead.
The OneAsia season, which will boast at least 14 tournaments worth nearly US$16 million in prize money, tees off with the US$1 million Indonesia Open, to be played from March 15 to 18.
In unseasonable conditions at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath, which saw wind gusts of more than 55mph and lightning storms, players were forced off the course for over two hours before Townsend eventually won the 36-hole event with a four-under-par 140.
“It was such a grind out there today. It was so hard to hit the right club any kind of distance so it was just a guessing game,” said Townsend, whose best finish in nine OneAsia starts last year was 11th place at the Nanshan China Masters.
“Thankfully my short game was brilliant, I was able to hit the ball up and down a lot and just keep things going along in the right direction.
“It’s fantastic. It’s going to finally sink in over tonight and tomorrow but I couldn’t be happier.”
Also finding the conditions challenging were Cullen and Hall who, along with veteran Peter Senior – a OneAsia winner at the 2010 Australian PGA Championship – finished tied for second with one-under-par totals.
Senior, who finished his round earlier in the day, had an anxious wait in the clubhouse as Hall went on to birdie the 18th to join him on 143.
Cullen bogeyed his final hole to give up his outright second place and join Senior and Hall in a playoff.
Just one playoff hole, the seventh, was needed to decide the final two qualifiers as Senior’s par was not good enough to match birdie fours by
Cullen and Hall as the pair booked their places at Royal Lytham St Annes for the 141st Open Championship this July.
Hall was delighted to have finally qualified after several failed attempts over previous years.
“It’s amazing,” said Hall, who was fourth in lat year’s SK Telecom Open on OneAsia.
“I have been thinking about this ever since they brought the IFQ out to Australia so I have had a few goes at this, at least five or six, so I am pretty pumped right now.
“This is exactly like The Open is going to be, my short game is going to be important so I just have to stay pretty patient and I was patient today.”
For all three this will be their first trip to a Major Championship. Cullen, the youngest of the trio at 27, is not intimidated by the prospect.
“I really haven’t had time to think about it too much. Of course you always dream of playing Majors when you are a kid and playing next to the best guys in the world and I am just looking forward to a chance to do that,” said Cullen, who is hoping to play a full schedule on OneAsia this season.
“I think I’ll go well, I like the wind and as long as I work hard I think I will do alright.”