ROB Spence heads to Scotland on Monday looking to book his place in the Open Championship.

The Furness golfer, 36, has reached final qualifying for the third time – and hopes his previous experience of the Gailes Links, near Glasgow, will prove valuable.

Spence – who will have Cumbria county team-mate Will Bowe as his caddy for the two rounds of final qualifying on Tuesday – came through a nail-biting play-off to reach Gailes.

Now he is hoping he can book himself a special birthday present at Royal Birkdale, and book a spot in the Open itself, where he would turn 37 on the Saturday of the competition.

“A place in the top three at qualifying will do me,” he smiled. “The top three will get me to Birkdale.

“I've got experience of playing there before, so has Will – we've been there a couple of times between us – and I think that will be good and should help us.

“My game is brilliant at the minute. This year, I have been playing really well, so hopefully I can carry it on and take it into the final qualifying.

“I'm 37 on the Saturday of the Open, so that would be a great present to get there.”

Playing at Northumberland, the Furness Golf Club man – who equalled the course record with a round of 65 earlier this year – carded a two-under-par round of 72 at Northumberland.

At the time, that was good enough for a share of first place – with four players going through.

But James Harper, of Wynyard, and James Simpson, of Close House, both recorded 69s to take first place, and four men ended up tied on two-under.

That meant a play-off to advance, against fellow Cumbrian Craig Goodfellow, from Carlisle, Richmond's Michael Henson and Australian Paul Archbold.

“I couldn't have played any better,” said Spence. “I had two bogeys late on in the round, but I went birdie, birdie to get back to three-under, before I bogeyed 16.

“I thought it might have a chance. The people stood round the leaderboard were saying that if it didn't get in, it would definitely be good enough for a play-off. It was just the waiting about that the horrible bit.

“I was more nervous on the last three holes of the normal round than I was in the play-off – I couldn't wait for that. I'd already done the hard bit by getting into it, I felt great.”

Goodfellow birdied the first extra hole (the first) to book his spot in final qualifying, while Henson bogeyed the second (the 18th) to rule him out.

That left Spence – who had parred both holes to that point – and Archbold to battle it out for the final place.

Going down the first again, both players took par, but it was the Australian who blinked first, bogeying the 18th the second time around, as Spence recorded another par.

Spence heads to Scotland on Monday for practice, with final qualifying the following day. The Open Championship is played at Royal Birkdale between July 20 and July 23.

He thanked Alan McLean, Harry Barker, of HBP, Mike Elliott, from the Crown Hotel, and Barry Nicholson for their help and support during his qualifying run, as well as his wife and family.