Every few minutes on Saturday afternoon Alex Maguire kept thinking to himself ‘I’m actually going to play the Open’ as shot by shot, results in Estonia’s European Amateur Championship went in his favour and his dream came true.
The Laytown and Bettystown star topped the inaugural Open Amateur Series Order of Merit despite only playing two of the three qualifying events, skipping the European Amateur due to a hectic recent schedule.
Maguire was gutted earlier in the week as he knew his dreams of Royal Liverpool were out of his hands but he was overcome with relief when his nearest challenger Jack Bingham could only share fourth in Estonia meaning he booked his spot at Hoylake in a fortnight.
“It feels amazing to be going to the Open,” said the 22-year-old who amassed the most world Amateur Golf ranking points courtesy of winning the St Andrews Links Trophy and reaching the quarter-final of the Amateur Championship.
“I was gutted to not play the European Amateur, felt like I shot myself in the foot obviously with how things panned out with St Andrews Links and British AM, I knew I would have a really good chance to secure my spot by just making the cut I imagine.
“I definitely thought I missed my chance. It was one of those decisions I made a while ago I wasn’t trying to get too down on myself when I realised I couldn’t play and didn’t have it in my own hands so sitting at home watching the scores wasn’t the most fun last few days.”
In the case of the Mornington native (Co. Meath) his results speak for themselves having not finished outside the top-14 since returning home from Florida Atlantic University and announcing himself as the most in form golfer in the UK and Ireland.
Finishes of fourth in the Irish Amateur, 14th at the Brabazon were followed up with back-to-back wins at the East of Ireland Championship in Baltray where he became the first player in 30 years to retain the title and at the Old Course in the St Andrews Links Trophy before coming 5th in Hillside last week.
“It’s a great reward, to be fair it’s probably more of a bonus, not sure you could call it a reward. It’s such a rare opportunity to get an invite to the Open or any major especially with it being the first year it came round with the Amateur Series.”
A good week at Hoylake will go a long way further improving his already strong chances of making the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup side especially if he can link it with a positive showing in Ireland’s six-man team at the European Team Championships next week
“It’s the stuff of dreams, the Open is my favourite major out of all of them so to get the first special invite to it means a hell of a lot to me.
“I’m not quite sure what I will do to prepare for it I might bounce off some guys who played before and see how they approach it, some lads who played a major and my coach will be a great help and set a good plan for the week.”
Maguire played Royal Liverpool as a 13-year-old shortly before Rory McIlroy won his Claret Jug in 2014 and he would love to tee it up with the four-time major winner and Shane Lowry.
“I’m looking forward to the Open experience, meeting players, the atmosphere, the locker room and the tent, everything that comes with it. I’d love to play with Rory and Shane and Seamus in the practice rounds, Rory and Shane would be the two main ones I would jump at the chance to get to play with.
“If they are too busy I won’t intrude, if it were to happen it would be amazing, it’s going to be the week of a lifetime and I can’t wait to get started over there in a few weeks.”
Having won in Portrush, Baltray and St Andrews, links golf is where Maguire really struts his stuff and who is to say he can’t cause a few surprises at Hoylake in two weeks time? It wouldn’t be the first time an Irish amateur has caused a stir at the Open.