HomeOther SportsGolfGalway's Liam Nolan Qualifies for The Open Championship at Royal Troon

Galway’s Liam Nolan Qualifies for The Open Championship at Royal Troon

Galway’s Liam Nolan Qualifies for The Open Championship at Royal Troon

Irish amateur golfer Liam Nolan has qualified for this month’s Open Championship at Royal Troon after an impressive performance at the 36-hole qualifying event at Dundonald Links. Nolan finished tied-second, carding rounds of 69 and 70 to achieve a five-under-par score, securing his place in the major tournament.

Clutch Performance at Dundonald Links

Nolan, a Walker Cup star from Galway, demonstrated nerves of steel by holing a critical five-foot par save on the 18th hole to avoid a four-way play-off for the final two qualifying spots. “It’s incredible,” said Nolan, who was tied with Spain’s Angel Hidalgo, just three shots behind England’s Sam Hutsby in the race for four places at Royal Troon. “I mean, I can’t really wrap my head around it. I’m just happy I holed that five-footer or so on the last. Still getting over that.”

First Major Championship

Nolan is excited about the opportunity to compete in his first major championship. “It’s an amazing opportunity to play my first major and I just can’t wait for it now,” he said. “It’s going to be crazy. I feel like I’ve had a very good amateur career, but this is a nice one to tick off, playing in my first major. It’s hard to process the fact that I’m going to The Open. I’m looking forward to everything – the crowds, it being in Scotland, the Home of Golf, and, yeah, I just can’t wait to go.”

Overcoming Challenging Conditions

Reflecting on the qualifying rounds, Nolan mentioned the challenging weather conditions. “It was a long day with a lot of different weather conditions, so you had to adapt all day and just keep the ball in play as best as possible,” he said. He made four birdies and a bogey in his opening 69 and, while he was inside the top four after following birdies at the fourth, ninth, and 11th with a bogey at the 16th, he had to make par saves at the 17th and 18th to secure his dream ticket.

Confidence Under Pressure

Nolan displayed remarkable confidence, especially during his crucial par putts. “I was actually quite confident,” he said of his par putt at the last. “I actually had a six-footer on 17 and another one again on 18. I was putting well, especially in the afternoon. So I just said I’d give it a roll. And if it didn’t go in, I’d still have a chance to get to Troon.”

Preparing for The Open

Nolan, who will join fellow Irish golfers Tom McKibbin and major winners Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, and Shane Lowry at Royal Troon, is eagerly preparing for the event. “A major championship is the pinnacle of golf. So to get to play (in an event with) Tiger, Rory McIlroy, all the best players in the world, yeah, that’s as good as it gets.”

Recent Form and Future Plans

Nolan, who recently graduated from the University of Galway with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, felt confident about his form going into the qualifier. “I did believe,” he said. “I played very well in the European Amateur last week, I was trending really nicely. My ball striking was very good, which is so important around a windy links. To not be looking for your golf ball is so important. So I knew if I rolled in a couple of putts during the day, I’d have a great chance. And that’s what happened.”

Upcoming European Team Championships

Before The Open, Nolan will represent Ireland in next week’s European Amateur Team Championships in Italy. “I finished college at the end of April, and I’m happy to be just focusing on golf at the moment,” he said. “We have the European Team Championships next week in Italy with Team Ireland, and I’m really looking forward to that week. We got bronze last year, so hoping to go a couple better this year. And then it’s on to Troon so I really have to do a lot of planning now. It’s good planning, though, fun planning. I’ll enjoy doing that. I will just try to sort out my next three weeks as well as I can. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Other Notable Performances

Hutsby shot rounds of 67 and 69 at Dundonald to top the qualifiers by two shots from Nolan and Hidalgo, who eagled the last from 130 yards as Scot Jack McDonald came through a three-way playoff for the final spot.

Graeme McDowell shot rounds of 72 and 73 to miss out by three shots at Royal Cinque Ports, where Matthew Southgate topped the qualifiers by three shots on six-under from Southport’s Elvis Smylie and Spanish amateur Jaime Montojo. Ireland’s Alex Maguire played alongside Sergio Garcia at West Lancashire but missed out by nine shots as they were put on the clock. Garcia, aiming for his 100th major, failed to qualify by two strokes. Niall Kearney shot rounds of 69 and 71 at Burnham and Berrow to finish three shots outside a playoff for two spots, with Justin Rose and amateur Dominic Clemons topping the leaderboard on eight-under.

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