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Lahiri qualifies for The Open Championship

Lahiri qualifies for The Open Championship

The Open Championship will be played at the Royal Lytham St Annes from July 19 to 22.

Chonburi, Thailand: After two barren years, India will have a representation at the British Open as the in-form Anirban Lahiri shot a final round five-under-par 67 to win the top honours at the International Final Qualifying (IFQ) Friday.

Lahiri, who shared the lead at the end of the first round of the 36-hole IFQ, had four birdies, an eagle and one bogey in his 67 as he finished at nine-under for two rounds.

He was two shots clear of Thai Prayad Marksaeng (73-64).

Kodai Ichihara (69-69) took the third place and then Mardan Mamat beat Lam Chih Bing and Jonathan Moore for the fourth spot in a play-off after being tied at four-under.

The Open Championship will be played at the Royal Lytham St Annes from July 19 to 22.

It will be Lahiri's first appearance at a Major. The last Indian at the Open was Gaganjeet Bhullar, who also won the IFQ in 2009 and then played at Turnberry in 2009.

An ecstatic Lahiri said, "It has been a childhood dream of mine. It feels really nice. This is the third IFQ I have come for and the last the couple of times I played pretty poorly. It is really nice that I have made it.

"The rain was quite a damper because I knew I was two ahead. I just needed to finish it off and win it. It was a little bit frustrating because we didn't know how long the storm would stay but I'm glad it is all over and done with."

Lahiri, who was leading at nine-under with two holes to play, had to endure a wait of two hours 35 minutes before the last two flights came back to finish play at the majestic Amata Spring Country Club.

Other Indians to have played at the British Open are Gaurav Ghei (1997 at Royal Troon), Jyoti Randhawa (2000 at St.

Andrews, 2003 at Royal St. Georges and 2004 at Royal Troon), Arjun Atwal (2004 at Royal Troon), Jeev Milkha Singh (2007 at Carnoustie), Shiv Kapur (2006 at Hoylake) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (2009 at Turnberry). .

Lahiri turned in 35 with just one birdie on the first. He exploded into red hot form on the back nine. He birdied the 10th, 11th and 14th to go to four-under.

He was unstoppable as his five-wood approach shot on the 15th landed three feet from the hole, which he holed for an eagle. He dropped a shot for the second successive day on 16th and then his charge was stopped momentarily as play was suspended with two more holes to play.

Lahiri was delighted to add a Major appearance to his fledging career where he has won two Asian Tour titles.

"This is something every player looks forward to. I'm glad we have this opportunity on the Asian Tour. The fact that I have come here and won it is very special to me and I hope that I can make it a memorable one at The Open," he said.

Prayad, a six-time Asian Tour winner, bounced back from an opening 73 courtesy of a new driver and some hot putting where he sank a monster 50-feet birdie putt from the edge of the eighth green.

He will be making his fifth appearance in The Open.

Ichihara, who missed out on a fourth and final ticket to The Open by one shot last year, battled into third place with a flawless 69.

Mardan, playing four flights behind overnight leaders Moore and Lahiri, had an agonising three-hour wait before playing in the play-off, which he triumphed with a tricky 12 feet birdie putt on the par four 18th hole.

first published:March 02, 2012, 18:09 IST