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12 into Open as US Qualifier cancelled

Australian Steve Elkington and Briton Lee Westwood were handed spots at next month's British Open when the U.S. leg of final international qualifying was cancelled on Tuesday.

Elkington and Westwood were among 120 players set to compete at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, for 12 places at the third major championship of the year.

The qualifier was called off because of torrential rain in the Washington area and the leading 12 players in the world rankings in the Congressional field secured Open berths.

Also going through are Americans Tom Pernice junior, Brett Wetterich, Vaughn Taylor, Bo Van Pelt, J.B. Holmes, Jerry Kelly, Jeff Maggert and Ted Purdy, Britain's Greg Owen and Aaron Baddeley of Australia.

Elkington, winner of the 1995 U.S. PGA Championship, will play in his 15th Open while Westwood will appear in his 12th.

The Congressional qualifier came under increasing pressure when the PGA Tour's Booz Allen Classic at the nearby TPC at Avenel stretched into a sixth day on Tuesday after more than nine inches of rain fell within 48 hours.

Several players in the Booz Allen field were also lined up to play in the Open qualifier.

International qualifiers were introduced by the R&A two years ago to make it less expensive for overseas-based players to qualify for the world's oldest major championship.

Four other qualifiers were held this year -- in South Africa, Australia, Singapore and England.

The 135th British Open will be played at Hoylake in north-west England from July 20-23.

June 28, 2006

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