John Mellor's bid for Open Golf Championship

York Press: John Mellor's bid for Open Golf Championship John Mellor's bid for Open Golf Championship

HE'S just 36 holes from teeing it up against the world's best players but John Mellor is trying not to get carried away with dreams of playing in The Open Championship.

The 43-year-old, a key part of Walker's Golf Academy at The Oaks Golf Club in Aughton, is through to final qualifying for the year's third golf major after negotiating the regional round at Moortown, in Leeds, on Monday.

Mellor fired a level par 71in tough scoring conditions to finish tied fourth in the event and book his place as one of ten qualifiers from the venue.

The former European Tour player now faces an even more stringent task, with a total of just 12 places available for The Open, staged this year at Royal Liverpool, on offer from the four final qualifying sites of Hillside, Gailes Links, Sunningdale New and Woburn.

Mellor, who will celebrate his 44th birthday when the two round competitions get under way on July 1, is hoping for a perfect present that could see him sharing the same stage as giants of the game like Phil Mickelson, who claimed the famous Claret Jug a year ago at Muirfield.

"Moortown played really firm and the fairways were really running," said Mellor, who has yet to learn where he will play in final qualifying. "It was very firm to pitch to and, with an event of this status, the pins were in some tough positions.

"I was very pleased. I go into events confident that I can do it and I will go into the final qualifying in confident mood. I've put down Woburn and Sunningdale (as preferred choices) but wherever I play it is a matter of just playing 36 holes and trying to qualify.

"You have to make sure you don't get too far ahead of yourself and think everything is about the end result. I would love to compete in The Open and it would be great if that happens.

"But I have to make sure I do what I have been doing. Potentially I could get drawn with some name players (in final qualifying) and that's the big appeal of it. You don't know who you might be playing with and it is going to be great.

"Whoever I get to play with, though, I have got to go out and play."

Mellor has been joined in the next stage by Flamborough's Alex Belt. The 28-year-old, attached to the Snainton Golf Centre, narrowly missed out in a play-off in the PGA Sandburn Masters last week but continued his good form by finish tied third with a three-under-par 69 to in his qualifier at Northumberland Golf Club in Newcastle.

While there was joy for Mellor and Belt, though, Malton & Norton's Chris Halley suffered play-off agony at Moortown.

The 28-year-old, who turned professional in March and qualified for the EuroPro Tour, fired a one-over-par 72 and, having had an early tee time, was close to the top of the leaderboard throughout much of the day.

He finished tied for seventh and, with seven other players having carded the same score, Halley went into an eight -man play-off with four spots at final qualifying up for grabs.

But the Yorkshire Amateur and Yorkshire Order of Merit champion last year was unable to book his place in the lucky quartet and is now the 30th reserve.

The Open regional qualifying at Moortown: North Yorkshire scores - T4 John Mellor (The Oaks) 71; T7 Chris Halley (Malton & Norton) 72; T15 Nick Marchant (Easingwold) 73, T15 Nick Ludwell (Selby) 73; 28 Daniel Hood 75; T32 Oliver Ripley (Selby) 76; T39 John Wells (Snainton) 77, T39 Martin Brown (Pike Hills) 77; T58 Damon Coulson (Fulford) 79; T67 Andrew Rigby (Rudding Park) 80; T83 George Forder (Fulford) 83.

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