x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Warren Bennett's up and down career is back on the upswing

Warren Bennett's remarkable career of giddy highs and terrible lows has produced another high. Bennett is among the 12 qualifiers for the British Open at Royal Lytham.

Warren Bennett will be returning to Royal Lytham, where he won the Lytham Trophy 18 years ago.
Warren Bennett will be returning to Royal Lytham, where he won the Lytham Trophy 18 years ago.

Warren Bennett was last seen on the European Tour working as a caddie three years ago, but he will be back walking the fairways with the world's best when he plays in the British Open in two weeks.

A remarkable career of giddy highs and terrible lows produced another high on Tuesday when Bennett was among the 12 qualifiers for Royal Lytham out of 288 hopefuls at four courses.

Bennett was leading amateur at the British Open in 1994 and later that year beat Tiger Woods in finishing second at the world team championship.

Two seasons after that he was put out of the game by a twisted vertebrae but came back to win the Scottish PGA title, but then had further problems and eventually retired to teach.

A hand injury suffered when he was knocked off his bike by a car appeared to have ended any hopes of a comeback and he became a caddie, first for the Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and then for Trish Johnson on the women's circuit.

"I had a couple of operations on my hand and I couldn't play, so I gave the caddying a go and I enjoyed it at the time, but there was always this little bit inside me telling me I was meant to play," Bennett said.

"I don't know whether that was ego."

A few months ago, he went to see Matt Belsham, the coach of Robert Rock, winner this year of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Bennett, 40, said Belsham has "given me a new outlook".

He added: "I was at a fork in the road after messing up the qualifying school at the end of last year and, having done it on my own all my career, I told myself to grow up and see somebody.

"I've really worked hard and I'll just have to see where I go."

The former Ryder Cup pair of Barry Lane, 52, and Paul Broadhurst, 46, were among the others who qualified for Royal Lytham, but Bennett's story captured the imagination.

"It's a good feeling," Bennett said. "I've given myself a chance just to play a decent tournament again.

"I haven't done that for years."

His last big tournament the 2008 Portuguese Open and he pulled out of that with an injury.

Bennett has played just a few mini-tour events this season and now has come through both the 18-hole local and the 36-hole final qualifying to make it into his first British Open in a decade - on the course where he won the Lytham Trophy 18 years ago.

"Matt's given me a new lease of life and I'm starting to build a little foundation," he said.

"Where it takes me I don't know. I just really hope I get another chance on Tour."

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