Keir Smith and Ken Tarling Monday qualify for The Senior Open Championship


Keir Smith and Ken Tarling Monday qualify for

The Senior Open Championship

For Immediate Release


July 23, 2013


The festival of links golf continues this week at Royal Birkdale with two members of the PGA of Ontario in the field as the golfing greats assemble on England's North West Coast for The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex.  


Following hot on the heels of a wonderful fortnight in Scotland at Castle Stuart Golf Links and Muirfield, where Phil Mickelson won both the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and The Open Championship, it is the turn of the seniors to put their knowledge of links golf to the test for the third Senior Major of the season.


Keir Smith from The National Golf Club of Canada and Japan's Seki Okuda led the 13 qualifiers at Southport & Ainsdale as they posted scores of 1-under par to finished T1. Ken Tarling from Ken Tarling's Golf Academy in Stouffville, Scotland's Kye Kelsall and Englishman John Harrison, winner of the Senior Tour Qualifying School three years ago, then progressed via a play-off after finishing at plus-2, with former Scottish Senior Open winner Glenn Ralph among the trio of players to miss out.  


"This is the first Major Championship for both Keir and I to play in so it's quite exciting for both of us," Tarling said via an email note. "The last two years I missed out in a playoff so I am quite pleased to finally make it through."


"It is a true links course and very tight with fairway bunkers all over the place.  I counted 146 bunkers on Google Earth and that includes one par-3 hole with no bunkers and another par-3 hole with only one bunker.  They are deadly if you get into them and all you can do is blast out with a lob wedge," Tarling added.


Tarling's son Kevin, who works in the golf shop at Granite Golf Club, flew Monday night to caddy for his dad for the rest of the week.  "I figure that since this is my first Major and perhaps the only one I will ever play in that it would be great if Kevin was on the bag. I do know that when my time is up and they are tossing the dirt on top of me that I will not be saying, "I wish I had saved that $1,500 bucks that it cost me to have Kevin with me at Royal Birkdale."


Other Canadians in the event include; Rod Spittle, Phil Jonas and Jim Rutledge. Tarling is actually paired with Rutledge and Steve Cipa from England for the opening rounds, while Smith will play with America Bart Bryant and Andrew Oldcorn from Scotland.


Fred Couples, recently inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, returns as defending champion after a highly credible tied 32nd finish at Muirfield, where he improved with each round by carding 75, 74, 73 and then a level par 71 for a nine over par total.


Couples finished third in The Open at Birkdale in 1991 behind Ian Baker-Finch in what remains his joint best finish, along with St Andrews in 2005, among nine top ten finishes he recorded in golf's oldest competition without managing to capture a Claret Jug.  


This week also marks the eagerly anticipated Senior Open Championship debut for Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month. Montgomerie was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame alongside Couples in May in recognition of his record eight Order of Merit titles, eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player in addition to triumphant captaincy in 2010 and 31 European Tour titles, and while a Major proved elusive on the regular Tour, the Scot is determined to put that right among the Senior Majors.


Royal Birkdale shares a close affinity with a number of those teeing up this week including Tom Watson, who won The Open there in 1983 in his only Open victory outside Scotland, and Mark O'Meara, who not only won The Open in 1998 having already won the Masters Tournament earlier in the year, but also the Lawrence Batley International in 1987.


Nine Open Championships have been played at Royal Birkdale but this week marks the first occasion the club has hosted the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, first played in 1987, with the club becoming the 11th venue to host the Senior Open.


For more information contact:


Kevin Purcell

Executive Director

PGA of Ontario


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