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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Matt Ford has spent decades trying to qualify for the Open. Now, he’s playing the biggest match

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Claret Jug will not be raised St AndrewsScotland, until Sunday, but British golfer Matt Ford has secured the win of a lifetime: qualifying for Open Championship.

The 44-year-old has made tens of thousands of shots in more than 280 tournaments, but as he drives from the Old Course’s opening tee on Thursday, it will mark his first shot at the tournament. a professional league, in a professional career spanning nearly two decades. .

Ford turned pro in 2003, but his efforts to get to The Open began as an amateur. They have included a knockout loss in the future Master winner Trevor Immelman, and since then he has reached the final qualifying round several times.

“I tried to solve it the other day, how many times have I tried,” Ford told CNN.

The son of a professional footballer, Ford grew up in the English town of Swindon and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Only holding the club for the first time at the age of 10, it was not until he finished school at the age of 18 that he began to pursue golf full-time.

“I love football but it’s also frustrating,” said Ford, “and golf is something that affects me.

“Even though the game of golf is anything out of control, you can still have more control in an individual sport.”

Ford plays out of the bunker in the Srixon PGA Playoff in October 2009.

Turning pro at the age of 25, Ford got off to a strong start, competing at the 2005 BMW PGA Championship (formerly the British PGA Championship) in Wentworth.

Playing in a European Tour event gave the Englishman a huge boost of confidence, but by 2013 he had almost left the sport. Despite some further appearances on the European Tour (now DP World Tour), Ford has spent most of its career on its feeder chain, the Challenge Tour.

Challenge Challenge Tour

Five runner-ups have been the highlights, but their constant long-distance trips around the world to pitches less luxurious than the European Tours and PGA have taken their toll mentally and, above all, financially.

Only the top 10 finishers in the “real” Challenge Tour’s 156-player field earned enough prize money to subsidize the cost of playing the event, with Ford estimating more than half of the remaining players losing more than $1,000. a week.

By Ford’s calculations, he loses money more often than he wins it, and with his wife Suzie and two young children supporting him, the pressure of ‘playing to live’ is a real challenge.

“There have been many times when I thought about giving up this game and, as many people say, ‘getting a proper job,’ it’s tough,” he said.

“It’s really touching the way my family has supported me. I don’t have to make as much money as I would like to make this comfortable.”

Ford shoots from the teenager during the Challenge de Espana competition in Cadiz, Spain, in May.Ford shoots from the teenager during the Challenge de Espana competition in Cadiz, Spain, in May.

A major breakthrough then occurred in late 2014 when Ford received his pass at the European Tour Eligibility School, opening the door for him to compete in nearly 60 European Tour events over the following two years. there.

He lost his card before the 2017 season, but continued to compete until he found himself competing at the final Open qualifying event at Prince Golf Club in Kent, England, in July.

A good start in the second round put Ford in command at the bottom 5 into the final 10 holes of qualifying, before four losses on the next four holes were set to write a familiar chapter in his open qualifier saga.

“You start to wonder, ‘Did I blow it up? What did I do this? Idiot,” he recalled.

However, when Suzie and the two kids reached the final six holes after school, they watched Ford swoop toward the finish line. He shot an eagle en route to taking those four lost shots to finish in bottom 5 and qualify as event winner, two shots ahead of second place.

Ford placed 14th on the green during the Italian Challenge Open in Viterbo, Italy, in July.Ford placed 14th on the green during the Italian Challenge Open in Viterbo, Italy, in July.

‘Biggest ever’

As well as realizing his childhood dream of playing the Open – the historic 150th edition of the equally legendary Old Course – Ford is equally delighted to share the experience with his family.

“Sorry teachers,” his children won their own results with days off to watch their dad play in Scotland. And desperate to meet Tiger WoodsFord made good on his promise, posting a photo of his daughter with the three-time Open champion on Wednesday.

“They were just as happy and excited as I was,” he said. “The tournaments they went with me, they could watch every single game and there weren’t too many people around.

“It’s going to make it crazy in St Andrews with so many people… it’s going to be such a big event, everyone is saying it’s going to be one of the biggest ever.”

Experience, potential salary and possible opportunities for future DP World Tour events; Ford cites plenty of reasons to be excited about this week. However, when the goal of his life is just getting to his first tee, what is the ultimate goal he is about to achieve now?

“I’m thinking of winning the league? No, not really,” said Ford. “But there’s no reason why I can’t have a great week and who knows what could happen. This is golf and if I can keep playing you don’t know.

Golfing legend Tom Watson recalls his classic Open at St AndrewsGolfing legend Tom Watson recalls his classic Open at St Andrews

“I don’t really set myself too many specific goals other than to keep a smile on my face and enjoy the week. If I do that, hopefully I’ll score some good points.”

Whatever the outcome, there will certainly be no shortage of efforts.

Ford is scheduled to start its first round at 11:15 a.m. BST (6:15 a.m. ET) Thursday.

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I am passionate about journalism and using new technology to spread news. I am also interested in politics and economics, and I am always looking for ways to make a difference in the world. I am the CEO of Janaseva News, and I am 24 years old.

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