In late January I played in one of the International Qualifying events for the Open Championship—or as some know it the British Open—and I was lucky enough to finish 2nd over the 36 holes with rounds of 68, 67 at Kingston Heath Golf Club to earn my ticket to the oldest championship of all.
Well, five months on and now the biggest tournament of my life is only weeks away and although it has always been a dream to play in a major championship, I’ve never even been to watch one. So I have certainly been busy doing my homework.
A few weeks after qualifying, I thought that it’s about time to start preparing, even though the event is not until mid July. Now that doesn’t just mean standing on the range for endless hours beating balls, there’s the whole other side of these events that you have to put time into.
Firstly flights. When should I go over? How early do I get to the course? How much time do I allow for jet lag? Will flying business class be a worthwhile investment to help my recovery? These may seem like easy questions but when you arrive at a golf tournament, you need to arrive at a time best for you to prepare and every person is different. Too early and sometimes you have too much time to think, too late and things seem a rush and you start having regrets. I have been on both sides of the coin and neither is an option on the golf world’s biggest stage.
Secondly, where do I stay? Not knowing the area it’s always a guess as to how good your accommodation is, not to mention getting in and around the place. After spending quite some time looking, I found a place in North Berwick. As there will be 4 of us there, Robbie Bennetts (friend and sponsor), Robyn Beecher (long time friend) and Jeff Lloyd (caddie), I needed a place with 4 beds and the cheapest I could manage to get it for was 5000 pounds, for the 7 days……and I can tell you that was the cheapest.
To be honest I had no idea how expensive it was to play a major! I was told by colleagues who had played before that it is likely to cost about $20,000 Australian dollars for the trip and I thought that was way off, but now I know it’s almost spot on. Knowing this and certainly having an opportunity to provide a company exposure, I have been busy trying to secure a sponsor to help offset at least some costs and although I have had dedicated plenty of time and had several discussions with many companies as I write this, still nothing in concrete.
With respect to working on my game, that is something that you continuously do and has been difficult to ‘work’ on your game during a busy time. It has been a busy last month flying from Papua New Guinea to Korea where I played two events and then straight back home to play in some events on the QLD Sunshine Tour. Although now when you’re out there in certain situations, I sometimes think if this was happening at the Open, how would I handle it? An example was at the Dysart Pro Am last month. It’s a big event, $35,000 in prizemoney and a good field including a major winning Wayne Grady and although I shot six under par the first day and was tied for the lead, on the second day I was 4 over through 6 holes. I asked myself, how do I handle this? Do I get cranky and give up, resigning myself that it is just one of those days, or do I pretend that this is the Open and grind my way back? I went with the second option and ended up shooting 2 under for the day. The next day I shot 65 and went on to win the tournament by a shot.
I believe that this is the mental strength that you must have to compete against the world’s best and that is exactly what I’m going to be doing in a few weeks’ time. I am really looking forward to the whole experience at the Open, but more than that I am focusing on a top 20 finish as my goal, an achievable goal that I know plenty of my amateur partners who I have played with over recent times will be willing me to accomplish.