A RIBBLE Valley golfer is getting ready to mix it with the big guns after he qualified for the golfing calendar’s most prestigious major.

Mark Young, who plays at Clitheroe Golf Club, will take his place at the Open Championship at the famous St Andrews course after winning a qualifying event this week.

Despite only turning professional in November with the help of three local businessmen, Young will now be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods as they battle it out for the right to lift the famous Claret Jug.

Former conservatory fitter Young, from Hurst Green, flew through several regional qualifiers but faced a daunting final hurdle; there was a 73-strong field vying for just three spaces in the main draw of the Open.

However, Young kept his cool to win the event at the Gailes links course in Glasgow to shoot rounds of 68, including an eagle and three birdies, and 70 to win the competition with a score of four under par.

He finished two shots clear of Liverpudlian Paul Kinnear and New Zealander Ryan Fox, who will join him at St Andrews.

Just to show how remarkable Young’s feat was, one of the high-profile casualties of the several qualifying events was former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

Young was a favourite in the Ribble Valley amateur scene before three local businessmen - Michael Kerrigan, Tony Baron, and Martin Kerrigan - saw his potential and sponsored him.

That allowed him to quit his full-time job and follow his dream of being a professional golfer.

The event Young won in Glasgow was one of four final Open qualifying events to take place on Tuesday, with 12 golfers winning the right to join the star-studded field.

South African legend Retief Goosen had to come through a play-off with Englishmen Adam Gee and Jamie Moul at Woburn after all three finished on five under par.

However, the two-time US Open champion came through to book his place at St Andrews alongside Scotland’s Robert Dinwiddie and Irishman Paul Dunne.

At Royal Cinque Ports in Kent, it was an all-English affair with Alister Balcombe, Ben Taylor and Gary Boyd sealing the top three spots.

American Jordan Niebrugge, Sweden’s Pelle Edberg and Australian Scott Arnold took the final three places on offer at Hillside in Southport. All the qualifiers have earned the right to join a star-studded field to tackle St Andrews’ prestigious Old Course when the Open gets underway on July 16.

American young gun Spieth will be looking to continue his charge to become the first player to win all four majors in a calendar year, having already secured the Masters and US Open titles.