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Jose Maria Olazabal qualifies for US Open as Irish stars miss out

Updated: Monday, 27 May 2013 23:23 | Comments

Jose Maria Olazabal hasn't played at the US Open since 2007
Jose Maria Olazabal hasn't played at the US Open since 2007

Former European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal was amongst the 12 players who claimed a spot at the US Open in qualifying at Walton Heath on a day when the Irish hopefuls failed to fire.

Shane Lowry opted to retire after shooting a disappointing 75 in his opening round, while Peter Lawrie carded rounds of 72 and 80 to miss out by 11 shots. Gareth Maybin finished just behind Lawrie after registering an 81 and a 73.

Olazabal had to come through a play-off to secure his spot after Englishman Simon Khan put aside his recent play-off problems to win the 36-hole tournament.

The 40-year-old was beaten by Matteo Manassero at the fourth extra hole at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday but rounds of 67 and 70 today saw him safely through to the championship which begins at Merion on June 13.

Khan's aggregate score of 137 was good enough to leave him seven under, one shot clear of fellow Englishman Paul Casey and South African Jaco van Zyl.

"I'm delighted with today," said Khan. "It was tough out there with a lot of cross winds. I had a little wobble around the turn but then settled down with three birdies in a row. I dropped one on 16 but I was beginning to flag by then.

"Yesterday I did everything I could. I would not have done anything different but it didn't work out. When I won the BMW PGA Championship there was a downside in that I shut off a little bit after reaching one of my all-time goals of winning a tournament like that.

"Hopefully, this time I can look at it the other way round and kick on from here. I don't know a lot about Merion but it looks fantastic from the pictures I've seen. It looks quite tricky and a bit shorter, which hopefully will suit me.

"It will be my third US Open and I love the tournament, so it will be fantastic to go back."

Casey looked to be struggling after firing a 74 in his first round but he followed that up with a 64 and the former world number three is hoping to now be able to put his recent problems with a shoulder injury behind him.

"I played lovely today," said Casey.

"It was the first qualifier I've played, so I didn't know what to expect. We had great crowds and it was a golf course I played a lot as a kid, so I'm ecstatic to come through.

"For me, the US Open is right up there along with the Open Championship. I don't know a lot about Merion but I've played a lot of US Opens and I love them. I know it is going to be tough but I'm looking forward to it."

Dane Morten Orum Madsen secured his place as he finished on five under, one shot clear of Sweden's Peter Hedblom, Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Australian Marcus Fraser.

Olazabal was then in a group of six men on three under along with Argentinian Estanislao Goya, Scotland's Chris Doak, Swede Rikard Karlberg and the English pair of John Parry and David Howell.

They went into a play-off for the final five spots and Olazabal, Howell and Parry all made birdie on the opening play-off hole to progress.

"I'm very pleased to be going to Merion," said Olazabal, who will feature in the season's second Major for the first time since 2007.

"It's not very often you are involved in a six-man play-off so I'm delighted to get through and get a place in the US Open."

Doak, Goya and Karlberg all made pars on the subsequent two additional holes before Karlberg struck a tree with his tee shot on the fourth and could only make bogey, meaning the Swede was the unfortunate man to miss out.

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