St Leonards ace one step away from The Open

Chris Cotton is through to final qualifying for The Open Championship. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160622-104610002)
Chris Cotton is through to final qualifying for The Open Championship. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160622-104610002)
  • Chris Cotton one step away from The Open Championship
  • St Leonards golfer through to final qualifying next Tuesday
  • 24-year-old finishes joint top of his event in regional qualifying
  • Sedlescombe Golf Club member cards two-under-par round at Wildernesse GC
  • Leading players in final qualifying will join game’s elite at Royal Troon
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A golf talent from St Leonards is one step away from playing in The 145th Open Championship.

Chris Cotton will line up in final qualifying next Tuesday after successfully coming through regional qualifying this week.

The leading few players at each of the four final qualifying venues will join the world’s elite in the event proper at Royal Troon in Scotland from July 14-17.

Cotton was tied for top spot at Wildernesse Golf Club, one of 13 courses throughout Britain and Ireland used for regional qualifying. In total seven players advanced from the Sevenoaks venue.

After a five-hour rain delay on Monday, the 24-year-old amateur carded a two-under-par round of 70 late in the afternoon featuring six birdies, two of which came on the opening two holes.

Cotton, a member of Sedlescombe Golf Club, finished level with Swedish professional Adam Osth and was one of only five players in the 100-man field to break par.

The scratch handicapper has six months to go on a four-year scholarship at Thomas University in Georgia, where he is studying a degree in psychology, as well as playing golf in some of America’s most glamorous cities.

Cotton hopes to stay in the United States after completing his studies and has a job offer at the golf club in Tampa. The former Ark William Parker Academy pupil is aiming to play at tour level and hopes to compete at third tier level, possibly on the Canadian Tour, next year.

Before heading back to the US later this summer, Cotton is set to play in some of the leading amateur events this side of the Atlantic, including the English Amateur Championship and Tillman Trophy.

Several other local players also competed at Wildernesse on Monday. Mathew Andrews (Highwoods) was tied 14th on one-over-par - a score which included an eagle on the par five 18th - and Paul Nessling (Cooden Beach) was tied 22nd on two-over, his chances hit by a costly eight on the par four ninth.

Ben Nash (Cooden Beach) was tied 30th on three-over, while Colton Alleyne-Davis (James Andrews School of Golf) and Steven Gibbs (Sedlescombe) were tied 62nd on six-over.

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