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US Open

Nine qualify for US Open at Walton Heath

Peter Hanson and Jonathan Lomas each shot a 10-under 134 for two rounds Monday to qualify for next week's U.S. Open along with seven others.

Hanson shot a 66 on the New Course at Walton Heath in the morning, then carded a 68 on the Old Course in the afternoon. Lomas scored a 68 in the morning and a 66 later in the day.

The two will be joined by Simon Dyson, Soren Kjeldsen, Michael Campbell, Peter Hedblom, Robert Karlsson, Nick Dougherty and Jose-Filipe Lima, who also qualified at Walton Heath.

Dyson finished in third place at 7-under and Kjeldsen was fourth at 6-under after two rounds of 69. The alternates are Martin Maritz, Marcus Fraser, Peter Fowler and Steve Webster.

Hanson reaped the benefits of practice rounds on both courses last week.

"I took last week off and played the courses Saturday and Sunday,'' said Hanson, who scored his first European Tour victory in the Spanish Open in April.

The Swede eagled the 570-yard 13th with a 3-iron to 9 feet and birdied the last two holes in the morning.

"I've never played competitively in America and I decided to come early and give it my very best shot and I'm glad I did,'' Hanson said.

Lomas also will be playing in his first U.S. Open.

"I think the course will suit me, with narrow, hard fairways,'' he said.

Hedblom, who shot a 65 on the second 18 for the day's best round, had a spectacular finish. After 14 holes of his second round, he was at 2-under. Then he holed a 7-iron from 160 yards at the 413-yard 15th for an eagle and birdied the last three.

European Tour veteran Barry Lane failed to make it into his first US Open in 10 years on Monday -- after criticizing fellow European Tour players who could not even be bothered to try.

"Some people are just narrow-minded," said the 44-year-old former Ryder Cup player. "They are not showing any ambition when they don't bother to turn up. This might have been the one and only time in their career they got into the U.S. Open."

A second-round 78 killed off Lane's hopes of being among the nine players who came through the first-ever European qualifier at Walton Heath.

With both the Old and New Courses being used, a field of 100 could easily have been catered for. But a mere 53 teed off and two of those, Andy Oldcorn and Jamie Donaldson, then withdrew with injuries.

Sandy Lyle was among the late scratches and Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam were on the list of those who did not enter in the first place, but Lane's comments were directed at up-and-coming players.

"They should be trying to gain experience," he added. "We're in a global game now. The tournament in France next week [the Aa St. Omer Open] is a small one and it's only a five-hour time difference at the U.S. Open.

"You can go over and then come back for the French Open the following week," he said. "I think it's fantastic they've brought this qualifier in and it's a shame it's not been better supported."

Dougherty backed up Lane.

"I'm shocked and surprised," he said. "The U.S. Open is a major and I want to be playing in majors. Other people must have something very important on if they didn't want to be here."

The 53-strong field included an American amateur, 36-year-old Andy Drohen, who two weeks ago took part in the first stage of qualifying in the States. After just missing out there, he was placed on a reserve list and then was told there was a space in England if he wanted it.

"This is my first time out of North America and it's been an adventure," he said. "I actually flew over on Friday from Canada because I've been working there. It's been a whirlwind visit, but I got to see London and it's been a lot of fun competing against all these top guys."

He began with a level-par 72 on the New, but then found the Old far more testing and crashed to an 81.

When told of Drohen's story, Lane added: "There you go. Somebody is prepared to fly across the Atlantic, whereas others can't make the effort to drive from the Wales Open."

"It will be interesting to find out later why so many withdrew," said European Tour Director of Operations David Garland.

The same happened last year when the R&A introduced a qualifier in Washington for the Open. More than 50 US Tour players either withdrew or did not show on the day. And for last week's U.S. Open qualifier in Japan, only 16 players ended up fighting it out for three places in the Pinehurst starting line-up.


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