Between bad reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, finishing runner-up in an Alps Tour event, making his Major debut at St Andrews of all places and then catching Covid-19 itself – it’s been a heck of a year for David Carey.
“I’ve had a bit of everything, so it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next!” laughs the affable Dubliner.
And yet he is taking it all in his stride, enjoying the rollercoaster that has been his 2022 and still grinning away the whole time.
This week he continues that wild ride with the first back-to-back DP World Tour starts of his career when he backs up his appearance at the Hero Open with a start at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle and Massereene as part of a strong local contingent in Co Antrim.
It’s just reward for what has been a gruelling season, with Carey having to bide his time on the Alps Tour before the life-changing qualification into The Open at St Andrews last month, not only making his Major debut but also his first Major cut.
He would go on to finish 62nd on the Old Course, mixing it with fellow big-hitting enthusiast Bryson DeChambeau, and then backed that up with that first DP World Tour start at Fairmont St Andrews only a few weeks later.
Carey knows his stay in the top tier isn’t permanent, with these call-ups due to weakened fields as the PGA Tour season reaches the FedEx Cup play-offs, although he hopes he has a few more in him to go with a couple more guaranteed Challenge Tour appearances.
But as he prepares to make his first DP World Tour start at a course without the words St Andrews in the title, the 26-year-old is gathering as much experience as he can to take forward and continue to push himself to new levels.
“It’s nice to have done pretty okay in the first two and get another chance. The level is obviously higher than Challenge Tour or Alps Tour but, at the same time, I don’t think the winning scores are that different, so the more chances I get the more chance of things clicking at the right time and making a big week of it,” he says.
“I don’t know if I’ll get many more chances this year but it’s nice to get a taste of it and a little bit of a run at it. I’m trying to learn from each week. The Open was very different to a normal week, and (two weeks ago) was a chance to play in a normal event, so now I know what things are like.
“You get a good idea of the level and the standard. If I get into more events in the future, now I know what it’s going to be like and can draw from that in the preparation.”
The game isn’t even that far away right now, as his performance at The Open proved when he fired a five-under 67 at the Old Course to comfortably make it into the weekend and make a name for himself beyond the signature Ben Hogan-style flat cap he always wears.
Who knows how he could have played had he not been dealing with the aftermath of contracting the coronavirus, which he admits was hindering him when he was playing in Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Tied-61st was not a bad result all things considered.
And Carey knows that things can turn around pretty quickly if he is able to have one good week somewhere down the line. Perhaps it could be at Galgorm and Massereene, or maybe it will be back on the Alps Tour, but he still retains that belief it will be soon.
“It feels like I’ve been playing quite well without getting the breaks when you play really, really well. If I can play a little better and get a few bounces here and there, I think it could be a pretty good week. You keep trying to play well and hit good shots and see where you end up,” he adds.
“There’s ups and downs, but it’s nice to throw in a few ups sometimes. Hopefully I can keep pushing on. I don’t know where I’ll end up for next year in terms of status but hopefully I can get something from one of these starts.”