David Carey wasn’t in the mood for sentiments after he finished a respectable 62nd on his major debut at the 150th Open Championship.
Carey entered the weekend at St Andrews eight shots off the lead but faltered to successive 73s alongside Lee Westwood on both occasions.
The Alps Tour professional could have been forgiven for taking heart from his performance on such a global stage but he was disgusted at himself and the way he played in the final two rounds as he finished on -3.
“I really don’t think I can hit the ball much worse than I have this weekend,” said the Darwin Escapes man. “My iron play has been really poor all week. If I can make the cut playing bad well you have to think you can do better playing well. It’s easy to say that but if I can get myself in these positions more often, golf is really a numbers game. If I can play more events, you have to hit form at some stage and hope to hit form at the right time.
“When I got out of position I didn’t do a very good job of getting back in. I am just disappointed that I didn’t produce more of what I know I can produce.
“It’s that first step. It’s the first time I’ve got to that level and one that I will learn from.”
There were of course some big moments during the week for Carey, who models his game off Bryson DeChambeau, the highlight being playing a practice round with two-time Claret Jug winner Padraig Harrington.
“It was nice to birdie the last but it would be nicer to birdie the last if I didn’t double bogey the 17th both days. That would have made the last feel a little bit better. It has been a good week in terms of experience. It is one thing watching these things on TV and another taking part. It was good to be a part of it. But I am not where I want to be.
“It was nice to play with Pádraig on Wednesday. He was in touch with me soon after I qualified. I had never actually played with him before. We had met a few times and chatted a few times so it was nice to get that chance. So he was very nice to give his time. Certainly he’s one of the best that Ireland has every produced so it was an honour to get to play with him any time and learn from him and see what he’s doing as well. I couldn’t speak highly enough of him so that was one of the highlights of the week as well.”
Having turned pro as a teenager and shot a 57 in a EuroPro event, Carey understandably has high expectations of himself and perhaps the key to taking that next step is to reduce the burden he puts upon himself going forward.
Carey narrowly missed out on a challenge tour card in recent years, Carey knows he can play at a much higher level than he’s currently at and he showed this week he wasn’t out of place.
“I think the difficulty is when you know the level you can produce that when you don’t…. It is one thing when you hit one bad shot or two bad shots, I can move on. But when you repeatedly don’t produce what you are trying to do, or you are not hitting that level…. I know what I can do and when you don’t, it’s just very very frustrating and maybe some of the frustration from yesterday crept in today as well. I definitely feel I should have been three or four better as well.
“To not produce that straight away,, even off the first I hit a decent shot and I walk down and it has run through into the burn. It was the wrong club. From the get go again it was not the most straightforward or easy day. The fairway is 123 yards wide and all you have to do is hit the right club and that was the wrong club. Then I mis-clubbed 17 yesterday, Had eight iron in my hand and went back and hit nine. I was in left rough today and was trying to get it front right. Both days I was absolutely dead in the bunker. If you are back from the lip you can do something but I was under the lip both days. I should have got away with two bogeys.
“Yesterday in particular, you can be 40 yards over the back and don’t have a hard pitch. You just cannot go in that bunker. I know that. I knew that before. And today I knew it. When you make make mistakes like that, it shouldn’t be a surprise.”
Overall, the Castleknock native did enjoy himself despite his disappointment and he hopes to get another crack at the Old Course in the future.
“It would be enjoyable to get into the Dunhill links or even the Hero at Fairmont in a couple of weeks where I won. That wouldn’t be too bad either. Let’s see where I go from here. It would be nice to get in another big event and try and push on.”
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