CHRIS HANSON will go up against German World Cup player Sven Struver, a three times winner on the European Tour, when he makes his bid to reach the Open Championship via the final qualifying at Southport & Ainsdale on Monday and Tuesday.
While the Crosland Heath tournament player powered through regional qualifying by heading the field at Pannal with a birdie-packed 66, Struver is one of 76 who were exempt from that stage.
The German regained tour status at the qualifying school last November, finished ninth in the Joburg Open and fourth in the Madeira Island Open but has since struggled and languishes in 163rd place in the Order of Merit.
Only four spots in the Tiger-less Open at Royal Birkdale on July 17-20 are available at S&A and it’s the same at neighbouring Hillside and at West Lancs, at Blundell Sands, Crosby where fields of 96 go in the 36-hole test.
S&A is the course Hanson would have gone for had he had a choice. He said: “I’ve played all three of the courses and I’d have picked S&A. I prefer it to Hillside, and though it’s a long while since I was at West Lancs and don’t remember that much about it, I recall it being maybe tougher.”
He was brushing up his knowledge of S&A, just round the corner from Royal Birkdale, with a practice visit today and will have to be at his best. Final qualifying, with so few spots on offer, is the toughest of examinations of ability and coolness under pressure as one mistake can dash hopes.
Hanson has confidence in his game and has been consistently solid all year. “It all came together at Pannal and I’ll give it everything at S&A. If it doesn’t go to plan I’ll be back on the Europro Tour at Bristol and the following week I’m off to Portugal for the tour event at Villamoura.”
Nick Ludwell, the Selby professional who made the Open when it was last staged in Lancashire, at Royal Liverpool two years ago, plays at S&A as does Jon Lupton, the PGA Assistants champion from Middlesbrough and a former county team colleague of Hanson’s.
Nineteen Yorkshire players are involved at the three venues, among them is Huddersfield-born Dan Greenwood, a professional at Forest Pines, Scunthorpe, who plays at West Lancs where American tour man Scott Dunlap makes his bid.