Gaunt, Basic lead Open Final Qualifying

Australians Chris Gaunt and Neven Basic are tied for the lead, on 3-under the card, after the first round of International Final Qualifying (IFQ) at Kingston Heath.

With the Claret Jug being one of the most sought after prizes in professional golf all 45 players in the field were out to play their best golf today in the hopes of qualifying for The Open Championship.

Neven Basic Neve Basic is hopeful of bringing his winning form to Melbourne this week

Despite a field that contains golfing legends Craig Parry, Peter Senior and Peter Lonard it was Chris Gaunt and Neven Basic who were able to post the score of the day in tough Melbourne Sandbelt conditions.

“It was blowing a gale out there, the holes coming home on the back nine were quite windy so it’s pretty tough,” said Gaunt.

Victorian Chris Gaunt had a consistent round with five birdies, three of those coming consecutively, and just two bogeys contributing to his final 3-under 69 score.

“I putted very solid today I probably could have made a few more but I could have missed a few more as well.”

Gaunt who is yet to play in The Open Championship is comfortable heading into tomorrow’s final.

“I haven’t qualified before; I played in Europe once and missed by a shot that’s the closest I have been so I am pretty keen to get in there and do it.”

Also having come close to qualifying in the past is co-leader Neven Basic.

“This is my third go at IFQ, I missed by one about four years ago which hurt,” said Basic.

Basic will be hoping to keep his form from today heading into the final round so that he can play his first Major.

“It would be awesome to play in a Major, it’s something that you have watched on television since you are 10 or 12 years of age so to actual get to play would be fantastic.

“To play in such a historic place with the best players in the world would be fantastic.”

On the way to his 3-under 69 Basic posted six birdies and three bogeys.

Having had an interesting round is two time qualifier Kurt Barnes; sitting at 5-under the card after 15 holes Barnes looked unstoppable yet came unstuck with double bogeys on both the 16th and 17th.

He went on to birdie the final hole and finish one shot back from the lead at 2-under along with seven other players including Heath Reed, Nicholas Cullen, Aaron Townsend, Alistair Presnell, Joshua Younger, David Bransdon and David McKenzie.

Source – PGA Australia