Rónán MacNamara in Royal Liverpool
Alex Maguire couldn’t find his 151st Open Championship locker in the Royal Liverpool clubhouse, but when he did he found that he will be sharing a stable some elite company this week.
The Laytown & Bettystown star arrived on Sunday night to find his locker sandwiched between Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy in the champions locker room which he will share with Claret Jug holders past and present courtesy of his St Andrews Links Trophy and Elite Amateur Open Series wins.
“I got here last night, me and my caddie (Jack) and we saw Rob MacIntyre and Matsuyama and there was no locker for Maguire but I knew it must be around here somewhere but couldn’t find it,” Maguire explains on the chipping green. “One of the attendees came over and said there was a special place over in the corner and I assumed amateurs will probably be around by the toilets or something and I walk over into the champions locker room.
“I look over in the corner and it’s Shane Lowry, Alex Maguire, Rory McIlroy, so I’m in the middle of those two so what company to have they put all the amateurs and people who won something into the champions locker room I couldn’t stop smiling it was incredible to find that I was in-between those two boys.
“I thought they put me there on purpose but then I went though the list… it’s alphabetical! Anyone who has won something there are four or five of us in there and it’s a nice place to be.”
For Maguire, all seems business as usual as he clipps away in the bunker adjacent to the chipping green. But it’s anything but. Thirty yards away is Justin Thomas nipping wedges and skidding golf balls on the carpet like turf while Mexican star Abraham Ancer dips down into the sand upon Maguire’s exit to speak to some familiar faces from the Irish media.
The 22-year-old is unfortunately down to play a practice round alone on this Monday afternoon but almost nothing could wipe away his grin which stretches from ear to ear when describing the feeling of seeing the famous Open Championship grandstands dotted around Hoylake.
“That’s why I came here yesterday to get the shock value out of the way so I’m not a deer in the headlights today so I got all the stuff I needed to get done yesterday like the locker, today is all about preparation,” says the Irish international who slept in a tent as a spectator at St Andrews last year.
“I’ll play eighteen today and nine the next day, I would rather go to bed knowing the course and sort of chill out before the tournament rather than play eighteen on the Wednesday and maybe too much. Preparation is going well so far.”
“Difficult to organise and people have their own plans so I won’t get in the way. I’m down on my own at the moment so if anyone is there I’ll play with them, I don’t mind being on my own. I’ve looked at the tee times and the only time I could get out was an empty space.
“There are a few friends coming out, a few from the club and people are trying to keep me out of their plans and make sure I’m not too stressed so it would be good to see a few lads.”
Maguire’s preparation sounds wise considering he flew into Liverpool on Sunday night after representing Ireland at the European Team Championships in Belgium. The team arrived back in Dublin to a homecoming on Sunday afternoon but he quickly jetted off again after helping the Boys in Green claim a bronze medal – Ireland’s fist medal since the 2014 European Teams.
He dreams of going one better this week!
“I’d like to go one better and get the silver medal this week. The England game gave us something to fight for so once there was a medal up for grabs it got our minds into shape so it was nice to come away with a medal.”