GRAEME Storm had a day to remember in the US Open qualifier at Walton Heath.
Not only did rounds of 68 and 71 at the New and then Old courses at the famous Surrey club take him through to the second Major of the year, he got to play alongside one of golf’s greats.
It was not such a happy occasion for three-time Major winner, Padraig Harrington.
A first-round 75 damaged his hopes and while his form picked up at the Old course, his 71 was not enough to get him near a trip to Pinehurst in June.
Storm said: “To be drawn with Padraig Harrington was great.
“He was fantastic to play with and initially my sights were on beating him, thinking if I could do that I would be doing well.
“To play alongside someone as good as him pushes you on to play better
“And to beat him comfortably over two rounds was very satisfying.
“He did not play to his normal standard and his score was quite poor on the New course.
“But he battled back well with 71 on the afternoon on the Old course but he needed more birdies and the conditions were not great so it was hard for him.
“I think it was probably the first time in a long time that he has had to try to qualify for a Major and even though he missed out, he was an absolute gent.”
Not only did Harrington’s presence on the course aid Storm, the big galleries also inspired him through the tricky conditions.
“Padraig brought the crowds out and that helped because there was quite a following so it gave it a feel of a big tournament,” Storm explained.
“The rain never stopped for almost all of the day so that made conditions difficult.
“We played the New course first which I rate the easier of the two.
“I picked up some shots and was able to continue to play well and had a nice finish.
“It gave me a good score to go into the afternoon.
“I knew I needed to finish no worse than level and when I was three under on the Old course things were going well.
“I had a couple of bogeys towards the end of my second round but by then the course was playing so long because of the weather.
“It was very difficult in those conditions but I was able to grind it out.
“I was pleased with a 71 and it made me five under overall and helped me qualify outright and kept me out of a play-off.”
Harrington was not the only Major winner to miss out.
Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal finished level with him on two over par.
Shane Lowry maintained his excellent form from the BMW PGA Championship by winning the 36-hole event.
The Irishman finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Wentworth over the weekend, but put any disappointment to one side by carding an eight-under-par overall score in heavy wind and rain in Surrey yesterday.
He recorded a 69 on the New course before bettering that with a 67 on the Old course.
Niclas Fasth, Garth Mulroy and Simon Griffiths shared second on 137.
Storm was joined on 139 by Chris Doak, Shiv Kapur, Brooks Koepka, Marcel Siem and Kieffer.
Six players had to compete in a play-off for the four remaining spots.
English duo Oliver Fisher and Tom Lewis, plus Andrea Pavan and Lucas Bjerregaard sealed their spots, meaning Morten Madsen and Danny Willett had to be content as reserves.