Can Bell qualify for British Open?

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KILHAM’S Rachel Bell’s hopes of appearing in this year’s British Open have taken a step forward after she made it through the first qualifying round.

She travelled to Berkshire for the preliminary round, knowing only 25 of the 96 players would make the grade.

A level-par finish meant she finished tied for fifth and sailed through to the final qualifying round at Caldy Golf Club on Monday

Bell said: “The battle for places is fierce every year and those who make it into the final field definitely deserve to be there.

“Final qualifying is one round, no room for mistakes or having an off day Just like pre-qualifying it’s one round, all or nothing. “I’m having a couple of practice rounds at Caldy then we will see what happens. I’m playing really well but everyone can have an off day. If I play like I played at pre-qualifying then there’s no reason I shouldn’t qualify.”

However, she is under no illusions about the difficulty she faces in securing a place at the Open, at royal Liverpool next weekend.

“Only the top 25 in the rankings on Ladies European Tour get an automatic place into the field for the Women’s British Open.

“The majority of places go to the American LPGA tour and another sizeable chunk goes to the Asian Tour.

“I know there are comments every year about how few British women actually get to play in the Open.

“It’s tough because you basically have to be top 25 in Europe to get in, or be playing in the States with a high enough ranking.

“And there are no wild cards. Can you imagine how many female British tennis players there would be at Wimbledon if they restricted it to top 25 in Europe and no wildcards?

“It’s a chicken and egg situation. The British open will probably argue that they just want the best in the world at their event and if that means no British players, so be it.

“To get to be the best in the world, you need the opportunity to play against the best in the world.

“I think Wimbledon probably view it the other way round - pack the draw full of Brits and give them a chance to play against the big guns and let the British crowds cheer on some of our own players.”

Along with those who qualified from berkshire, Bell will be up against those are ranked 26 to 80 on the European Tour, who get a bye into the final qualifying event.

But her memories of her appearance at the Open five years ago will act as an incentive.

Bell said: “I played in the British Open once before in 2007 in my final year as an amateur up at St Andrews.

“I gained an automatic place that time into final qualifying because I had been in the Great Britain and Ireland team for the Vagliano Trophy.

“I loved every second of playing in the Open and made the cut too which made it extra special.”