Ryder Cup captain Love qualifies for British Open

US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love was among eight players who qualified for the British Open on Monday in an international qualifier in which England’s Brian Davis earned top honours.

Davis was the medallist at Gleneagles Country Club with a six-under 64 in the one-day qualifier that was shortened from 36 to 18 holes after early thunderstorms caused a six-hour delay.

Chad Campbell finished one stroke back to secure his spot in the third major championship of the year, which will be held at Royal St George’s in July.

Love, who tied for fourth when the British Open was held at Royal St George’s in 2003, was in the group of qualifiers at 66 that also included Australian Nathan Green, Spencer Levin, Chris Tidland and Bob Estes.

Jerry Kelly, who had a 67, earned the last spot in a six-for-one playoff, beating out Justin Hicks.

In the 2003 Open at Royal St George’s Kelly made an 11 on the opening hole when he needed four shots to get the ball about 15 feet through dense rough.

He carded an 86 and had to pull out of the championship with a wrist injury.

Davis had six birdies in his bogey-free round on Monday.

“I had a really good ball-striking round today and any mishit shot I had went straight, so you know you’re playing good when that happens,” he said.

American Brandt Snedeker was among those who failed to qualify in the playoff. He is ranked 47th in the world, with the top 50 after this week’s tournaments getting into the championship.

Others who failed to qualify included Australia’s Stuart Appleby, Brian Gay, Paul Goydos and former Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia didn’t get a chance to try. He withdrew because of an infected fingernail on his left hand that made it difficult for him to grip the club.

Garcia has played in every British Open since he was an amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998.

US PGA Tour players still can earn a British Open berth through a special money list that includes The Players Championship and the five consecutive tournaments through the AT&T National, and for being the highest finisher among the top 10 not already exempt in the AT&T National and the John Deere Classic.

That includes Garcia, who has not missed a major championship dating to the 1999 US Open but now could miss two in a row.

Ranked 73rd in the world, Garcia has said he won’t play next month’s US Open if he gets into the top 50 by June 13.

“I couldn’t grip the club properly today and it prevented me from playing when I wanted it most,” Garcia said. “It’s a setback, but I’m happy with the direction my game is headed and I’ll be looking to make up for it the rest of the season. I always look forward to The Open Championship, and to have to withdraw today is a huge disappointment.

“Having a problem with your finger is obviously a big issue for a golfer.” — AFP

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