Matthew McClean hopes to go one better than his Masters experience and stick around for all four rounds at this week’s US Open Championship at LA Country Club.
McClean led at Augusta National when the tournament was in its infancy before he missed the cut by five shots and he believes he can learn the lessons and apply them this week in order to experience the boisterous and feverish US Open weekend atmosphere.
“It will be a great week. Regarding the crowd and the noise will be very different to the Masters. I’m looking forward to experiencing that and it would be cool to be there for the weekend and to enjoy playing in front of a loud US Open crowd.,” explained McClean who knows making the cut will be a huge lift for his Walker Cup hopes.
“Hopefully I can try and go one step further from the Masters and make the weekend. I will take confidence from the Masters knowing that the cut was within reach quite easily with a few holes to go so it’s just about putting it together and see if it’s good enough to stick around for the weekend.
“The main thing from the Masters is that it was my first major experience and I was in with a chance of making the cut which was good. When you’re in the situation you just have to take your time and slow things down, easier said than done. Second time around hopefully I will be more comfortable and knowing there are guys in the field shooting good scores and try keep up with what the standard is.”
McClean has been given a comfortable pairing alongside Waterford’s Seamus Power and New Zealand powerhouse Ryan Fox and the Belfast optometrist is relishing the test.
“It’s definitely going to be different to the Masters. I played the course for the first time last week and the set up for a US Open is just completely different, it’s such a big property with lots of stuff going on. A different experience but I’m looking forward to it, just looking forward to seeing the course on the Thursday and getting out and playing.
“It’s a great golf course, the greens are the big defence, they are pretty undulating they will be rock solid and fast. The rough around the greens is brutal so the greens will be where you have to hit it in the right place and putt very well. It’s relatively generous off the tee but if you miss the fairway it’s long enough where some hole you won’t be able to reach from the rough.
“Some similarities from Augusta with the undulations on the greens and that they will be very fast but overall the golf course is completely different. You have to hit it a mile off some tees with some of the long par fours and very long par fives. It will be a test to look forward to.”
In practice, the Malone man hit a driver to the 290 yard par-3 11th and he expects to hit a lot of timber this week with the par-3 7th also measuring at 284 yards.
“They’ll adjust the tee boxes and have some variation but yeah, there are some beasts of par threes. They are extremely long and they will be tough test, it will be all drivers, long irons and rescues I know I will have to use a lot of those!”
2023 may not be major man McClean’s only experiences at the very top level as he weighs up a career in the pro ranks post Walker Cup. He plans to play the US Amateur Championship while he also intends on defending his US Mid-Amateur Championship title which he won last year and there is no reason why he can’t be a dominant force at mid-amateur level.