A fairway to heaven as Richard Mansell makes The Open

Staffordshire golfer Richard Mansell admits it will be a dream come true when he steps on to the first tee at The Open in a fortnight.

Richard Mansell
Richard Mansell

The 26-year-old has qualified for golf’s top tournament at Royal St George’s after a gruelling 36-hole eliminator at Hollinwell Golf Club, in Nottinghamshire, this week – in what will be his first ever Major tournament.

Mansell will now tee it up alongside the world’s greatest players, starting on July 15.

And he admitted that while there will be first-tee nerves for what is regarded as the greatest golf championship in the world, he will be looking to embrace the occasion of playing in front of tens of thousands of fans at the famous Kent course.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing in a Major and for it to be my first Major, at The Open, is something I’ve been working so hard for, for so many years,” he told the Express & Star.

“It is the dream, I can’t wait. I’ll go down to Royal St George’s next week and play a couple of times and then possibly the week after too. I’m not playing at the Irish Open this week or the Scottish next week so I can concentrate on getting ready for St George’s.

“It’s a course I know and even though it’s my first Major and The Open, I’m going to try to treat it like any other other tournament and stay as level as I can and let my golf take care of itself.

“I’m looking forward to the nerves on the first tee – I actually like that.”

Former Chase Terrace Technology College pupil Mansell qualified for The Open by two shots at Hollinwell.

The Burntwood man carded rounds of 68 and 67 at Hollinewell to finish on nine under par and qualify as one of the top three and admitted it had been a tough day.

“We arrived late the night before and had to be at the course for six in the morning and we didn’t leave until 10 at night,” he added.

“I might sound a little but arrogant but I knew I was going to qualify – I just had that feeling going into it.

“But it is very fine margins. I qualified by two shots but there were about four putts where I had no idea how they didn’t drop.”

Mansell admits his qualification comes after a tough time in some recent tournaments.

He missed the cut at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg and at the start of June and struggled on the first round of the BMW International Open in Munich last week but managed to fight back to make it through to the weekend and eventually finish in tied 37th. “I was in a bit of a bad place after the first round in Munich but I spoke to my coach and managed to reset and improved and made the cut and I felt a lot better,” he said.

“I played a lot more solidly then and I felt like my ball striking was back – I just needed a few more putts to drop.”

For now though, he is looking forward to his Major debut and is thrilled to be doing so in front of fans with up to 30,000 allowed in each day at St George’s.

And Mansell, in his first year on the European Tour after graduating via the Euro Pro and European Challenge tours, says he is looking forward to playing in front of a large crowd having missed out on the experience having begun his European Tour career during the Covid pandemic.

“I’ve missed out on that (playing in front of crowds) a little bit,” he said. “I can see that for some people it helps in taking the pressure off a bit but I actually prefer playing in front of people.

“It makes me feel more important in a way. It makes me focus and it’s something I really enjoy.

“There’s going to be up to 30,000 people each day, I can’t wait for that.”

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