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Kent golfers in final qualifying for The Open Championship

By KentOnline reporter

It was a day of disappointment for Kent's golfers in final qualifying for The Open on Tuesday.

We had 10 hopefuls in action at Royal Cinque Ports near Deal, where three spots were up for grabs ahead of the main event at Royal Birkdale from July 20-23.

But it was Thorpe Hall's Matthew Southgate who finished top of the leaderboard for the second year running. An afternoon 65, thanks to an outward 32 plus his seventh birdie of the round at the 17th, ensured he finished six-under-par, three shots clear of the rest.

Steven Tiley in Open qualifying action at Royal Cinque Ports Picture: Gary Browne

Southgate, who was tied 12th at Royal Troon in 2016, said: "I’m thrilled to be back at The Open. It means so much to me.

"Last year at Troon was amazing with my family there and to be in the mix was amazing. The atmosphere was electric. It brought a tear to my eye when I finished on 18th because I was overwhelmed with how I played.

"To be honest I thought 12th place might have got an exemption for this year but that’s all fine now. That’s three wins in this for me now.

"I played unbelievable golf this afternoon, found a nice rhythm with my swing and ripped it into the wind. Links golf, I don’t know what it is, but it gets my brain switched on to hitting these little fades and draws and I really enjoy it."

Robert Dinwiddie finished three shots behind to secure his second Open appearance while Austin Connelly, a 20-year-old dual citizen of Canada and the United States in his first year on the European Tour, birdied the first extra hole of a play-off from 15 feet to claim the final place ahead of three others.

Francis McGuirk (Prince's) and Matt Ford (CK Group) were the highest-ranked Kent players, tied for 17th on three-over-par.

Max Orrin finished eight-over-par in Open qualifying Picture: Gary Browne

Connor Fletcher, of Chart Hills, was a shot back after rounds of 71 and 75, while Steven Tiley finished six-over at his home club for a tie of 32nd.

Thomas Muchmore (Kingsnorth) and Richard Wallis (Canterbury) were tied for 38th on seven-over while a further shot back were Max Brackley (Manston), Max Orrin (North Foreland) and Littlestone amateur Daniel Brown.

Knole Park's Adam Tillman retired after shooting a first round 75.

Michael Saunders (Dartford) travelled to Woburn but missed the cut there, finishing six-over as Ian Poulter claimed one of the three spots to book his place at Birkdale.

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