Simon Khan bounced back from his play-off defeat to Matteo Manassero in the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday by leading a group of 12 players into the US Open at the Walton Heath qualifier on Bank Holiday Monday.
The 40-year-old from Epping, who endured a sleepless night after losing to the young Italian on the fourth extra hole in the European Tour’s flagship event, showed little side-effects in the wake of losing out on a second PGA in four years. He heading 94 hopefuls at the 36-hole qualifying event for next month's US Open at Merion Golf Club.
Khan followed an opening 67 on the Old Course with a 70 on the New Course for a 7-under total, finishing one stroke clear of Englishman Paul Casey and South African Jaco Van Zyl.
"I’m delighted with today," said Khan, who will make his third appearance in the second major of the year following qualification in 2009 and 2010.
"It was tough out there with a lot of cross winds. I had a little wobble around the turn but then settled down with three birdies in a row. I dropped a shot on 16 but I was beginning to flag by then.
"Yesterday I did everything I could. I would not have done anything different but it didn’t work out. When I won the BMW PGA Championship there was a downside in that I shut off a little bit after reaching one of my all-time goals of winning a tournament like that.
"Hopefully, this time I can look at it the other way round and kick on from here. I don’t know a lot about Merion but it looks fantastic from the pictures I’ve seen. It looks quite tricky and a bit shorter, which hopefully will suit me.
"It will be my third US Open and I love the tournament, so it will be fantastic to go back."
Former Ryder Cup player Casey produced the round of the day, firing a superb 64 on the New Course after an opening 74 on the Old Course to seal a place in his tenth US Open.
"I played lovely today," said Casey, who is slowly returning to form after recovering from a shoulder injury.
"It was the first qualifier I’ve played, so I didn’t know what to expect. We had great crowds and it was a golf course I played a lot as a kid, so I’m ecstatic to come through.
"For me, the US Open is right up there along with The Open Championship. I don’t know a lot about Merion but I’ve played a lot of US Opens and I love them. I know it is going to be tough but I’m looking forward to it."
Morten Ørum Madsen finished fourth on 5-under, while Australian Marcus Fraser and Sweden’s Peter Hedblom, who finished tied 11th in the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst, also sealed their spots on 4-under, alongside 22-year-old rookie Eddie Pepperell, who finished tied sixth at Wentworth on Sunday.
And with light fading fast at Walton Heath, there was just enough time to complete a six-man playoff with five spots available.
Victorious 2012 European Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal, Argentine Tano Goya, Scot Chris Doak and English duo John Parry and David Howell made it through, leaving Swede Rikard Karlberg empty handied. Karlberg can at least take heart from the fact he's the first alternate for Merion.
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