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Top names miss out on US Open qualifying

Nick Dougherty of Britain, Swede Peter Hanson and South African Darren Fichardt led the way in 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Walton Heath on Monday.

Australia's Marcus Fraser, Graeme McDowell of Britain and Argentine Miguel Rodriguez finished one stroke behind the leading trio on seven-under-par 137 at the Surrey layout just outside London.

Sam Walker of Britain (138), Dane Soren Kjeldsen (139) and Frenchman Christian Cevaer (139) also qualified for the second major championship of the season at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania starting on June 14.

European Ryder Cup team mates Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley were among those to miss out.

Clarke, forced to qualify for a major for the first time in 12 years, carded rounds of 75 and 72.

"The current state of my game is not good for the U.S. Open, anyway, so it is maybe not such a bad thing," Clarke told reporters.

The 38-year-old from Northern Ireland has not made a cut since February.

McGinley was also unhappy with his two 71s.

"I'm not scaling the heights," said the 40-year-old Irishman. "I never got hot at any stage."

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, Ryder Cup team mates in 1999, also failed to qualify.

Hanson, 29, claimed top honours for the second time in three years having also won the qualifier in 2005.

"I like it here," he said. "We said eight under was the target for two rounds, sometimes it works out and sometimes it adds pressure.

"Two years ago I qualified for Pinehurst and that was my first major. I have played a few since then and know a little more about it."

Dougherty was claiming a victory after following his opening 66 with a 70.

"This is my first win in two years," said the 25-year-old Englishman. "I didn't play that well in the afternoon but in the end it is about getting through."

Fichardt, 32, said he planned to visit his brother in America before heading to Oakmont for his first U.S. Open.


June 5, 2007

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