x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fernandez-Castano qualifies without playing

Of all the European Tour players at Walton Heath for the 36-hole US Open qualifier yesterday, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was undoubtedly the happiest - he did not have to play.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Of all the European Tour players at Walton Heath for the 36-hole US Open qualifier yesterday, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was undoubtedly the happiest - he did not have to play. The British Masters champion was able to eat his breakfast and then leave without hitting a ball after it was confirmed he had climbed into the world's top 50 and was therefore exempt for the second major of the year.

Fernandez-Castano's 11th-place finish in the BMW PGA Championship moved him up 11 spots to a career-best 49th in the rankings and he will make his US Open debut at Bethpage Black next month. Fernandez-Castano, who had been due to tee off in the qualifying tournament at 8.45am, said: "I made some calculations last night but went to bed not certain because I knew the PGA Tour event in Texas could change things.

"I received a text from a Spanish journalist saying I was in but I came here at 7.30am just to make sure," he added. "It's excellent news because I've tried it here three times before and never got through. My ranking also gets me into the [British] Open, so that's great as well." His record at British Open qualifying is even worse - five misses out of five. "I did play at Hoylake in 2006 but that year I'd failed to qualify and then was called in off my world ranking because somebody else withdrew," he said.

The 28-year-old birdied the final hole at Wentworth to claim his spot, getting up and down from a bunker, just like Paul Casey did to win the title. * PA Sport