STUART MANLEY MAKES HEADLINES AROUND THE WORLD AS CLUBHOUSE LEADER OF THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
MOUNTAIN Ash-born Stuart Manley, who last week made headlines around the world as clubhouse leader of the Open Championship, has said he will use his debut at Royal Birkdale to improve.
The start of the contest for Manley, ranked 520th in the world and the only Welshman to enter the tournament, was beyond any expectation as he shot an opening round of 68, baffling commentators.
Although an 11 over par second round on Friday meant he missed the cut for the weekend’s play, Manley said he will take positives from the experience. He told BBC Sport: “It was a massive high on the Thursday after playing so well and knowing I can compete with the best players in tough conditions.
“But obviously it was a massive blow on the Friday. I’ll take the positives from it and move on.
“I shot 68 and you look at the likes of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson and I beat all those guys .... I knew it deep down and when you do do it, it’s nice to see.
“If I can do it there, there’s no reason why I can’t take that forward and do it in the future.”
It came after Manley made the dream start to his debut in a Major after becoming the shock clubhouse leader.
The 38-year-old bounced back from pushing his opening drive into the rough for a bogey five with a stunning eaglebirdie finish at the 17th and 18th holes to be at the head of the leader board from the early starters.
Manley’s card, which also featured a birdie at the sixth hole and a bogey on the 14th, put the Mountain Ash-born professional, who has been in the paid ranks of the sport since 2003, on two under par after a 68.
That meant the likes of Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter and eventual winner Jordan Spieth were chasing his score.
Before teeing off, Manley, who qualified for Birkdale after finishing joint second at the Johannesburg Open in February, told the BBC: “This is my dream job and I’m living it – it’s brilliant. I’ve been dreaming about it for decades. You try to qualify every year and I’ve been very close a few times.
“It’s one of the things to tick off the bucket list and I can’t wait to get going.”
Unfortunately for Manley, seven bogeys, three double bogeys and only two birdies on Friday left him nine over to bow out of the 146th Open, meaning he did not take part over the weekend.
But consolation for Manley still saw him take home a luxury car – the gift given to every golfer competing at the Open.
American Spieth, 23, emerged victorious on Sunday, winning his third career major after holding off the challenge of compatriot Matt Kuchar.
Growing up in Mountain Ash, Manley showed sporting promise from an early age, playing spells at football clubs Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Swansea City, but chose to focus on golf, enrolling on a four-year scholarship at the University of West Florida.
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Stuart Manley had a dream start to The Open Championship 2017 at Royal Birkdale