Early starts, high pressure and a tough course - I've got a taste for this

Diary of an Open outsider
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The Independent Online

So that'S it. In my second and final round of this year's Open, I shot seven over par for a total of 160. I missed the cut, as anticipated. Now it's back to Cornwall and work in the family garage. My next tournament will be the English Amateur Championship in Yorkshire in a couple of weeks and in the meantime I'll consider where my career goes from here.

So that'S it. In my second and final round of this year's Open, I shot seven over par for a total of 160. I missed the cut, as anticipated. Now it's back to Cornwall and work in the family garage. My next tournament will be the English Amateur Championship in Yorkshire in a couple of weeks and in the meantime I'll consider where my career goes from here.

A week ago, before I started final qualifying, the thought of turning professional - and coping with all that entails - didn't particularly appeal. It wasn't the nomadic lifestyle and all the travelling as much as the idea of coping when you're playing badly. I imagine it dominates your entire life, often negatively.

But now I've competed in a major, I've got a taste for it. I've had a fantastic week, better than expected, despite my score. The crowds were great, cheering no matter who you are or how you're doing. Everyone is rooting for you and you want to do well for them as well as yourself. So although I don't know what my plans are yet, I'm not ruling out the professional option sometime in the future.

As for today, I'll spend the day at the course, seeing a few management companies, exploring the possibilities of working for one of them. I studied golf and business management at college and I'd like to be involved in the game in some capacity, maybe working with players.

I've already had a few new insights into their world. I was up at 4.30am yesterday for my round. I've never got up that early to play in a tournament before. In the amateur game, the first tee-time is generally 7.30am, about an hour later than most pro tournaments.

I was on the range at 5.30am ahead of my 6.41am start. I was the first player there. The only other guy around was the greenkeeper who fills the divots. It was a cold, miserable morning but three friends showed up to brighten the day. They'd come from Hampshire especially, with a plan of pitching their new tent - bought for the occasion - in a nearby field. But when they arrived on Thursday they realised they'd left all the poles at home and had ended up sleeping in the car. That gave me a laugh before I started.

My round - alongside Ian Woosnam and Dudley Hart - was almost Thursday's round in reverse. Instead of a good start and then faltering I started poorly, with three bogeys, but then felt I held it together better afterwards, including birdies on the 4th, the 6th and the 15th.

Two holes yesterday seemed to sum up the course, and indeed the week. On the 10th, where the pin is tucked to the left, I hit a good drive with an eight iron. It was a great-looking shot. But I pitched maybe a yard too short and the ball caught a ridge, slid away and rolled into a deep bunker. I had no chance to get up and down and shot a bogey five. That just showed to me there is no margin for error here. None whatsoever. This course punishes you.

Conversely, on the 15th, where I'd landed in the rough to the side of the green, I chipped in from about 20 yards. The crowd erupted. I hadn't been putting well all day and then pulled that off. What a buzz.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me, especially my family and friends who've travelled a long way from Cornwall and also my caddie, Chris, and coach, Darren. Here's to Troon next year. I hope.

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