North Middlesex Golf Club member Andrew Johnston will compete against US Open champion Rory McIlroy in next week’s Open Championship after dramatically qualifying in a sudden death play-off.
The 22-year-old from Friern Barnet fought through regional and local qualifying which went to a fourth extra hole as he booked his spot in the major at Royal St George’s in Kent. A birdie during sudden death saw him come through as one of three qualifiers from 72 players at Royal Cinque Ports.
Johnston, who is the first member from North Middlesex to reach the Open, is now hoping to enjoy practice rounds with American Zach Johnson, world number four Martin Kaymer and five time Open champ Tom Watson during the build-up to the championship.
He started playing golf at the age of nine and turned pro two years ago. Johnston, who is expecting to become an uncle around the start of the tournament with his sister due to give birth, said: "Ever since I first hit a golf ball under the guidance of my father I’ve dreamed about competing at the Open. I’m delighted it’s in Kent as many members from North Middlesex Golf Club and my friends from Barnet will take the opportunity to come and support me."
North Middlesex president John Penn said: “We are so proud of Andrew as we’ve seen him develop as a golfer from the age of nine.
"He has such natural talent and a wonderful engaging manner that I’m sure the crowds at the Open will love him. We obviously wish him well and we’ll be cheering his every step of the way when he tees off."
Although he has played in fields with stars including Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen last winter, this is a real step up in his short golfing career.
The world number 824 has shown steady improvement under the management of Shaun Reddin at Redgolf and has had three starts in the Challenge Tour this year with his best effort being tied third at the Karten Golf Open in Austria last month when he finished with two 66s. He is priced at 1000-1 to win the Claret Jug at Sandwich next week.
Reddin said: “Andrew or "Beef" as he is affectionately known to us all has been making steady progress since turning professional in 2009, qualifying for this year's Open Championship is another step in the right direction and will be a valuable learning experience towards realising his full potential.
"Beneath his easy going and happy nature Andrew has the desire to win to match his talent and it is a delight for us all to watch him grow and develop."