The name of Stuart Manley might be unfamiliar to some but the Welshman finds himself in contention for the Claret Jug following a sensational closing two holes at Royal Birkdale. An eagle birdie finish has seen the world number 520 throw his hat into the ring at golf’s biggest stage.
Manley qualified for the Open thanks to a top three finish at the Joburg Open back in February but since then he has struggled for form with six missed cuts from his last six events. Manley regained his playing rights for the European Tour in November after qualifying through Q–School but has largely played on the Challenge Tour and near the lower ends of the European Tour. Now he finds in near the top of the leaderboard at the Open.
Making his debut at the Open this week he said: "I've been dreaming about it for years, decades. You try to qualify every year and I've been very close a few times."
The Welshman continued saying that: "I don't want to set that (making the cut) as a goal because the bar is set a little too low with that as a target.
"Personally it'll be great to play the Sunday and be in the top 20 and get amongst it with the big crowds and the big players and then have a great finish and be exempt next year from it."
From Journeyman to Open contender, it is fair to say that it has been one hell of a journey for Stuart Manley.