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More Americans expected for Open qualifying

British Open organisers are confident more American players will attend the U.S. leg of international qualifying for this year's tournament after the disappointment of 2004.

A field of 120 was initially meant to be chasing the 15 spots on offer at Congressional Golf Club for last year's Open. However, 46 players withdrew over the weekend and a further seven failed to arrive for their Monday teeoffs.

"The situation is that the PGA Tour has taken a very positive line on this," Martin Kippax, chairman of the British Open championship committee, told a news conference at St Andrews on Tuesday.

"Hopefully, with their encouragement, the numbers will be up at Canoe Brook this year.

"Remember this was a novelty last year, people weren't used to the idea."

The 36-hole qualifier at Canoe Brook in Summit, New Jersey on June 27 is one of five international qualifying tournaments for the 134th British Open.

Qualifiers have already been held in South Africa, Australia and Malaysia with a fifth scheduled for Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England, also on June 27.

International qualifiers were introduced by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) last year to make it more convenient and less expensive for overseas-based players to get into the world's oldest major championship.

"It isn't really a question of numbers in the international final qualifying but rather of quality," added Kippax.

"It may seem disappointing that only half the field turned up at Congressional but in reality more than 300 with world ranking points entered Open qualifying last year whereas the previous year the figure was in the region of only 110."

Overall, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson felt the new qualification process was a success in its initial year.

"We set out to open up the championship to as international a field as possible and we have succeeded, I think," he said.

"It would be a miracle if we had got it dead right first time out and we did have small adjustments to make, although I will stress we are happy with the overall principle."

This year's British Open will be played at St Andrews from July 14-17, when American Todd Hamilton will defend the title he won last year in a playoff with Ernie Els at Royal Troon.


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