Lindrick's John King looking to make most of his British Senior Open spot

LINDRICK club professional John King's preparations for British Senior Open qualifying at Machynys were so sporadic that he considered withdrawing.

Lindrick club professional John King is all smiles after qualifying for the British Senior Open, which starts today.

He is glad he suppressed the inclination and after shooting a one-under-par 70 will tee it up today for the third time in the most prestigious seniors event in golf, at Royal Porthcawl.

“I probably only play once every two to three weeks and last week I didn't get to hit any balls because we hosted the English ladies amateur championship,” said King, who played the British Senior Open at Royal Birkdale in 2013 and Royal Porthcawl the following summer.

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“Monday was probably my fifth competitive round of the year, so I was pleased how it went. I'm obviously a bit frustrated that I can't play more, but that is the life of a club pro and you have to get your priorities right.

John King's British Senior Open player's badge.

“It was nice to find some form and to have this experience again and I played really nicely in practice so it will keep the confidence up.”

King knows what it feels like to see his name at the top of the British Senior Open leader board having been two under through six holes at Birkdale, but ultimately missed the cut – as he did the following year in Porthcawl – and his first target is to progress to the weekend's final two rounds.

“Of course the expectation after that, if you manage to make the cut, is you just never know who you might get drawn with,” he said as he prepared for an event whose entry list boasts more than a dozen major winners, including Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and John Daly.

“I played really good on Monday in qualifying, I surprised myself. I played an event a couple of weeks ago just as a warm-up for the qualifying and I played really poorly.

John King's British Senior Open player's badge.

“I was half thinking about pulling out (of qualifying), but I managed to find some form. I found a little bit of a key with my putting and I played on past memories, if you know what I mean. I just kept focused on one shot at a time at Machynys and felt reasonably calm on the way round.

“Obviously, as you get to the last few holes you start thinking, 'what is going to be the mark?' and I thought I was ahead of the game at that point. Then the last tee shot was over a lake and it did cross my mind that I needed to catch it because it was about a 230-yard carry over the water, and one or two people couldn't make that carry because it was into the breeze.

“I thought, 'I had better flush this one' and I managed to do it and got it up on the green. I thought I would qualify quite easily because I was the only one under par at that point, but whether the weather changed or not, I don't know, but I was right on the mark in the end and there were 10 players on one under or better who got in.”

King says the pivotal hole in his qualifying round was at a par-5 on which he found a fairway bunker with his drive. “I hit the drive too far on the line I had taken into the bunker,” he said. “I slashed it out and put a four iron to two feet for birdie.”

He also performed well on Porthcawl's difficult short holes.

“The par-3s were very demanding and I had some good tee shots on them. That takes all the pressure off you, hitting it pretty close with either a four iron or a hybrid to give yourself birdie chances,” he said. “That took a bit of pressure off and I also made some good up-and-downs at the right time.”

He feels that as his preparations lowered his expectancy levels, he possibly played with more freedom in qualifying.

“I had a couple of things booked in the diary for this week, so I didn't build it (qualifying) up as much as I maybe have in the past,” he explained. “My attitude was, 'if I make it, great, if I don't, okay.”

During practice King found that a couple of new tees have been built since 2014, stretching the course's length, and he commented: “The course is tough; it is in great condition, really demanding, with big roll-off areas as you would expect on a links course.

“They have put in a couple of new tees since three years ago, obviously making it a little bit longer. If the wind is in the wrong direction on some holes I might struggle to make the fairway.

“As a club pro, just getting into an event like this is great; the way everything is set up is as it would be for any major tournament. The Lindrick members have been really supportive and are really thrilled for me to get in.”

With Worksop caddie Ged Widdison on his bag, King will tee off at 11.30am in the first round and 7am on for the second, alongside four-time European Tour title winner Jose Rivero and American Barry Conser.