2004: British Open? Yates opts for the slopes

Twenty-five feet stood between Simon Yates and his first trip to the British Open, but it was the call of the slopes – not the snaking birdie chance that awaited him at Saujana Golf & Country Club’s 10th green – that denied the Scotsman his invitation to Royal Troon later this summer.

Yates finished 36 holes March 31 tied with three other players for the final qualifying spot at the British Open International Qualifier in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After Sushi Ishigaki and Jeev Mikha Singh, playing in the group ahead, parred the first extra hole (Saujana’s 10th), Yates had hit his second shot to 25 feet when an approaching storm halted play at about 5 p.m.

Instead of waiting for the playoff to resume, which officials said would take about an hour, Yates – who missed an 8-footer for birdie at the 36th hole that would have secured his spot at Troon – headed to the airport to catch a 7:30 p.m. flight bound for a snow skiing vacation.

“He could have come back and continued but he abandoned his position in the playoff,” said Stewart McDougall, a British Open media official. “He’s never played in a major championship but, instead, he’d rather go on holiday.”

Yoshinobu Tsukada, who was paired with Yates in the playoff, holed his 15-foot birdie putt following the delay and will join fellow qualifiers Scott Barr, Kim Felton and Jyoti Randhawa July 15-18 at Royal Troon.

– Rex Hoggard

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