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Fourteen make it through Open Qualification

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and Paraguayan Marco Ruiz booked places at next month's British Open in the European leg of international qualifying on Monday.

The duo ended a rain-interrupted day on Sunningdale's Old and New courses level at eight-under-par 132, finishing three strokes ahead of their closest challengers.

Oosthuizen fired successive rounds of 66 to earn his second British Open appearance while Ruiz, who tied for 34th on his Open debut at Royal St George's in 2003, returned scores of 67 and 65.

"I'm looking forward to the Open," Oosthuizen, world junior champion in 2000, told reporters.

"I played in 2004 (at Royal Troon) but missed the cut so I'm setting my goals on making the cut and playing well."

Tied for third were Australia's Richard Green and Britons Sam Little and Mark Pilkington, who will join nine other qualifiers in the field for the third major championship of the year.

Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, Spaniard Carlos Rodiles, Britons Barry Lane, Jamie Donaldson, Simon Wakefield, Phillip Price and Lee Slattery, Swede Peter Hedblom and Australia's Brett Rumford also went through.

Englishman Lane, a European Tour veteran, was delighted to qualify for his 14th Open.

"I've been doing it all my life but there's just that buzz to be in the Open," the 46-year-old said.

"You can't believe how nervous I was coming up the last couple of holes. I have to say it's a godsend the rain has come because the scores would have been so high if it hadn't been raining."

Seven players, including Britain's Graeme McDowell and South Africans Darren Fichardt and Richard Sterne, will play off for the remaining four Open spots on Tuesday morning.

The sudden-death playoff will start at Sunningdale from 0700 local (0600 GMT) time.

Among the big names to miss out on Monday were 1991 U.S. Masters champion Ian Woosnam, after successive scores of 70, and former Ryder Cup players Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden and Andrew Coltart of Britain.

Three international Open qualifiers have already been held this year, in South Africa, Australia and Singapore.

The 135th British Open will be played at Hoylake in north-west England from July 20-23 when world number one Tiger Woods will defend the title he won by five shots at St Andrews last year.

June 27, 2006




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