16-year-old rookie falls short of British

February 5, 2008

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Former Australian Open champion Peter Fowler made a last-hole birdie to secure a place at the British Open for the 12th time after the Australasian qualifying tournament on Tuesday.

The 48-year-old Fowler hit a 4-iron to about 15 feet from the flag and made the birdie putt on the 190-meter (yards) 18th hole to secure one of the four places on offer from this 36-hole international qualifying event.

He finished at the 5-under total 141 and a share of second place, three shots behind Andrew Tampion, who qualified for his first major with rounds of 67 and 71 for an 8-under 138 in wet and windy conditions at The Lakes course.

Fowler had rounds of 71 and 70 to finish level with fellow Australians Bradley Lamb (71-70) and Ewan Porter (72-69) to qualify for the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

Ryo Ishikawa, the 16-year-old rookie who had 50 Japanese media following him in Sydney, missed qualifying by six strokes after rounds of 72 and 78.

Ishikawa, who turned pro last month, become the youngest winner ever on the Japan Golf Tour when he claimed the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup while still an amateur aged just 15 years and 8 months.

Rising Australian talent Lee Won-joon, who finished tied for second in the Australian Open six weeks ago, missed out by four shots after carding 75 and 70.

Fowler said his tournament was riding on his last putt that wobbled on the lip before dropping into the hole.

“I hit a stinging 4-iron to exactly the right part of the green and the putt was all or nothing,” he said.

Fowler made his British Open debut at Royal Birkdale 25 years ago.

“I’ve played a couple of tournaments there but I haven’t been there in nearly 20 years so it will be good to get back,” he said. “I love playing in the Open. It’s THE tournament. It’s the biggest golf tournament in the world.”

Fowler’s best finish at the British Open was 22nd in 2003.

International Final Qualifying events for the British Open were introduced in 2004 and are held on five continents.

The African event was held at Johannesburg in mid-January. The Asian qualifying event will be held at Sentosa in Singapore from March 25-26.