Australian Ashley Hall embarks on the biggest mission of his professional career when he tees it up in the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes next week.
After trying at least half-a-dozen times in the past, Hall finally made it to the world’s oldest Major with fellow OneAsia members Aaron Townsend and Nick Cullen after a brutal 36 holes of International Final Qualifying at Kingston Heath in Melbourne in February.
His performance there kick-started an impressive year that has seen him make every cut on OneAsia this season, but he is still seeking a top 10 finish and, more importantly, a maiden professional victory outside his native Australia.
“So far this year has been OK,” Hall said.
“Its been pleasing in that I have been quite consistent, but I would dearly love to turn some of the good results into wins.”
Hall, a burly Melbournian with distance to match his physique, currently lies 15th on the OneAsia Order of Merit with $39,015.52 and a highest finish of joint 14th at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open in March.
Last year he made $90,980.57 — including two top-10 finishes — while his best result on OneAsia came at the 2009 Volvo China Open when he finished joint third, two shots behind winner Scott Strange, to bank over $111,490.
Hall has set his sights on playing in a Major since turning professional in 2006, the year after he won the Tasmanian Open and the prestigious world-ranking Australian Master of the Amateurs Championship.
“The Open has been on the radar for a long time now, so a big result will be very satisfying given the extra preparation I’ve put in,” he said.
“I want to really test myself and see if my game is where I think it is. I would like to think I can be right in the thick of the action.”
The 29-year-old is not a complete stranger to links golf having played amateur tournaments in Britain in 2004 and 2005 as well as the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship twice.
“I will be calling on those experiences for what I’m going to be up against at The Open,” he said.
“I am also going over a little early to play some other links courses. On the agenda is St. Andrews, Crail, Royal Birkdale and Hillside — all before The Open.”
Hall, currently 557 on the Official World Golf Ranking list, has already shown he has the game for the sort of weather likely in Lancashire during the week, having qualified in a gale that forced play to be postponed for two hours.
“I’m expecting ordinary weather,” he said, in his typically understated Aussie manner. “But there will be big crowds and a very exciting week.”
He has also been picking the brain of anyone with experience of such a big event.
“The general consensus is that it’s a brutal but great course,” he said.
Hall has been planning the week in great detail with his coach, Denis McDade, who has guided fellow Aussies Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley during their careers.
Traveling with him to Britain for the Open will be his wife Tara and their month-old son, Cooper, while he is making it a family affair as his parents Carol and Geoff are also heading over — with his father on his bag.