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Staffordshire's Richard Mansell dreams of playing with hero Tiger at The Open

Staffordshire golfer Richard Mansell has spoken of his immense pride over achieving a dream and potentially competing alongside 'hero' Tiger Woods at the 150th Open.

Richard Mansell qualifies for the 150th Open Championship
Richard Mansell qualifies for the 150th Open Championship

Wolverhampton star Aaron Rai, however, will not be heading to St Andrews after he agonisingly missed out in final qualifying, which took place across four venues this week.

Mansell, from Burntwood, had already enjoyed a superb 2022 – achieving three top-10 finishes on the DP World Tour and playing in the US Open.

Now, he is heading to the home of golf after earning his place at Hollinwell on Tuesday.

It means the former Chase Terrace pupil could mix it up with idol and 15-time major winner Woods, who has outlined his intention to play in Scotland from July 14 to 17.

"It was a dream at the start of the year," said Mansell.

"It makes me a little bit emotional thinking about it because today (qualifying at Hollinwell) was not easy.

"I really didn't have my stuff and just had to grind all day.

"Obviously, when we qualified for the US Open, we were really hoping Tiger was going to be there just to play an event with him.

"He's kind of said that he's going to be at St Andrews, so even just to do that, you're hopeful you're just in the same event as your hero."

Mansell qualifies for the Open for the second year running, having also made it to the 149th Open at Royal St George's, where he got through to the weekend and finished in a tie for 74th with a six-over-par total.

He finished one-under through two rounds at Hollinwell to clinch a spot at St Andrews – level with ex-Shropshire & Herefordshire junior Oliver Farr.

Farr, formerly of Ludlow Golf Club, will tee it up in the Open for the first time.

Rai – T19 in last year's Open – will play no part in next month's event after being cruelly edged out in a three-man play-off at Fairmont St Andrews.

The multiple DP World Tour winner and current PGA Tour player fell short against Holland's Lars Van Meijel and Alex Wrigley, a teaching pro from Hartlepool.

The trio all finished two-under-par before the first extra play-off hole saw Rai card a bogey five while van Meijel and Wrigley both managed pars.

Shropshire legend Sandy Lyle, who lifted the Claret Jug in 1985, saw his efforts to qualify this time around thwarted by injury.

The 64-year-old, born in Shrewsbury, withdrew during his second round at Royal Lytham & St Annes with a hamstring issue.

Staffordshire's Robert Rock failed to quality as he endured a tough day at Hollinwell. The 45-year-old, from Armitage near Rugeley, retired.

Meanwhile, Walsall-born Paul Broadhurst bagged himself £88,000 in prize money as he finished tied seventh at the US Senior Open.

The 56-year-old – who played in the 1991 Ryder Cup – finished on two-under-par and eight shots back of winner Padraig Harrington.

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