Dubliner David Carey has clearly taken well to Texas. A round of 64 in a pre-qualifier last week propelled him into Monday Qualifying at Fair Oaks GC and there he followed up with a round of 65 to top the pile and book his ticket to Thursday’s starting $8.9m Valero Texas Open.
“It’s been good,” says Carey, who tuned up for his Texas adventure with some tournament reps in Florida.
“I’ve definitely rolled the putter well the last couple of weeks. It felt like I was working really hard and not getting a whole lot out of it so maybe it’s time for it all to click together.
“This is my first time in Texas and I’ve had two wins so far so I’ll try and keep the love affair going!”
No stranger to qualifying for big events, Carey earned his place in last year 150th Open at St Andrews where he played all four rounds before earning starts on the DP World Tour.
The goal for the big-hitting Darwin Escapes swinger has always been to break America, however, and having largely plied his trade on the Alps Tour in recent years, he’s now busying himself with all matters TPC San Antonio as he looks to get to grips with his first opportunity on the PGA Tour.
“I’m sure I’ve watched the event on the TV at some stage but I’m going to look at it online now and look at what I’m going to be facing,” Carey says.
“I’ll go and try and get a practice round in tomorrow [Tuesday] and I’m not really too worried about who else is playing, I need to figure out how to play the course and what I can do and work from there.
“I mean, if I keep shooting 64 and 65 everyday it will be a good week!
“I’ve been working and working and working and it has been getting a little bit frustrating so it’s nice to see some progress now.”
Buoyed by his main stage appearances of last year, Carey hopes to treat this week like any other golf tournament, refusing to get caught up in thoughts of life-changing fortunes should he reproduce the golf that promoted him to this field.
“I don’t know if I really look at it that way,” he says. “I know I can shoot low pretty much on any golf course. But it’s up to me to try and bring that into the big tournaments so hopefully it will click.
“I have to go and give it my best shot, hopefully do as well as I can and it will add up well and we’ll be having a nice call on Sunday evening. Whatever the results, there will be something to come out of it, whether that’s experience or something more.”
Something more could be the dangling carrot of a Masters invitation which will be bestowed upon the winner of this week’s Texas showpiece.
“A goal is just a dream with a plan,” Carey says, who hasn’t fully banished Georgia from his mind.
“Playing in the Masters has always been a dream, now I guess it’s more of a possibility, even if it’s not odds-on in any way. Someone has to win the event though so if I do everything I can to the best of my ability, I can give myself a shot at that.
“It’s one of those things that’s tricky – there’s no point in not thinking about it. It’s like that old saying ‘Don’t think of a pink elephant’, you think of one straight away so even when I was on the course to qualify, I was doing my best to focus on each shot but there were a few times when thoughts came in like ‘you just need to do this’ or whatever and you just have to try stop your mind running away with you.
“You need to get thinking ‘wouldn’t it be great if I did this’ or ‘wouldn’t it be great if I won this week’. It is nice to have some of those thoughts. The next thing is planning. Try and do all the simple things to give myself the best shot.”
Carey’s attitude this week will prove key to success or failure, and while he’s talking a good game, he’s also been implementing one in qualifying, highlighted by the shift in approach that ultimately earned him his Texas berth.
“My thought process was definitely different on 18,” Carey says having bogeyed 16 in qualifying before teeing up at the last on six-under par and inside the qualifying mark.
“My girlfriend Katie was on the bag and she was looking at leaderboards – I wasn’t really. I said, ‘Is 6 definitely in?’ and she said, ‘yeah, 4 is definitely in’.
“I asked what’s leading and she told me 6 so all of a sudden my thought process turned a little bit towards ‘Okay, let’s birdie it and win it outright!’”
Carey would do just that. This positive attitude has always been a real strength of his game, even earning praise 2024 Hall of Famer Padraig Harrington who’s the only other Irishman in the field this week in Texas. Chances of a practice round?
“I played 9 with Padraig at The Open, I don’t know his times or anything like that,” Carey said.
“I’ll hopefully run into him at some stage but these are all tomorrow problems at this stage!”
Tomorrow is now here… let’s hope Harrington has some words of wisdom, and that Carey can take the game that got him into this week right through to Sunday night at TPC San Antonio.
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