ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) – Brad Faxon made the trip across the Atlantic worth his while Sunday, shooting a 69 to narrowly earn one of three final qualifying spots for the British Open.

Sean O’Hair also earned a spot with his victory in the John Deere Classic.

Faxon could not play in the U.S. qualifier June 28 because it was the same day as the CVS Charity Classic he runs with Billy Andrade in Rhode Island, which has raised some $3 million.

At a time when some American players don’t even bother with a qualifier in their backyard, or have turned down exemptions to golf oldest championship, Faxon flew over late last week and pinned his hopes on two rounds on the links course at Lundin down the road from St. Andrews.

“If you win a tournament like this, it changes your whole life,” Faxon said. “And I’m not going to win it staying at home. There is a special feeling playing these links courses and competing in the oldest major in the world.”

Faxon was one of only two Americans who tried final qualifying at four courses near the Old Course. Ronald Won shot 67-74 at Scotscraig and failed to qualify.

Only three spots among 96 players were available at each course.

Faxon opened with a 64, but thought he had blown his chance with a 69 on the second day. That left him in a tie for second at the time, and he had to wait the rest of the afternoon to see if he got in.

Two players who opened with 65 couldn’t catch him, each shooting 69 to finish one behind Faxon.

The last time Faxon failed to qualify for the British Open was in 2000; coincidentally, that also was at Lundin when the Open was played at St. Andrews. That year, Faxon flew immediately home to defend his title in the B.C. Open, and wound up winning.

The top finisher at the Deere Classic not otherwise exempt wins a spot in the British Open, and O’Hair had to do some quick scrambling to make the trip.

“I have no passport,” O’Hair said during his news conference. “I just thought about that.”

But some calls were made, and O’Hair told The Royal & Ancient Golf Club about an hour later that he was coming.

Playing in the British will give O’Hair a chance to thank one of his idols, Jack Nicklaus. Since finishing second at the Byron Nelson Championship in May, O’Hair had been having problems with his swing. He worked on his own and asked other players, but still couldn’t find an answer.

So earlier this week, he went to a local bookstore and bought two of Nicklaus’ books, “Golf My Way,” and “My Golden Lessons.”

“I really like how he plays, and I was just looking through it and I got an idea,” O’Hair said. “I tried it on the range before I went and played Thursday, and was hitting the ball great. I just hit the ball probably the best I’ve ever hit it. … I think today outdid the rest of the days, but every single day I hit the ball better than I ever have.”

AP-ES-07-10-05 1901EDT


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