Rónán MacNamara in Hoylake
Laytown & Bettystown Amateur Alex Maguire admitted it stung to miss the cut on his Open Championship debut but is instilled with the belief that he is good enough to make the step into the professional ranks and compete at this level.
Maguire was in position to make the halfway cut on his first professional start after an opening 72 and after a solid opening seven holes where he missed a handful of birdie looks, a double bogey on the par-4 8th was the first nail in the coffin as the afternoon got away from him before he tapped in for a closing bogey on 18 and a disappointing 80 for a nine-over total.
“I played phenomenal for the first seven holes and the putter was stone cold, missed everything. Hit it to ten-feet on one, missed it, was a bad lip out, hit it to four feet on the next and missed that,” said Maguire who carded further double bogeys on the 14th and 17th. “Played three, four and five really well and then hit one of the best shots I can remember hitting, a 5-iron on 6 into 8-feet and that missed as well.
“Eight was the one that cost me, I made a stupid double. Hit it in the bunker, made a really and double and then you can be slightly off in this game, especially around here this place is so hard. Brian’s 10-under is ridiculous because it’s so hard out there, if you miss the green in the wrong spot it’s tough, especially missing fairways, you can’t attack the course without taking so much risk. There are bunkers off the tee all at the right distances, if you miss a fairway you are scrambling. I lost a ball on 14 with my second shot, caught a flier there which I didn’t think would happen so when that ball went in the rough that was my chances of making the cut gone.”
The week started off like a dream for the 22-year-old who was given a locker in the Champions Locker Room in between Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. The week ended with the St Andrews Links champion holding an 18th Open flag signed by his playing partners Charl Schwartzel and Rikuya Hoshino as a souvenir for his father and number one fan, Sean.
While he was visibly stinging after his hopes of the Silver Medal wilted in the wind he insists this is just the start of hopefully many Open Championship appearances.
“I’m definitely good enough to compete out here,” affirmed the back-to-back East of Ireland champion. “The score today leaves an asterisk on my career given my form over the last while. If you look at how I played you would think I’m definitely good enough to play out here and I hit a lot of really good shots at the right time and smart shots when I needed to.
“Yesterday, one over was the worst score I should shot out there and today was just one of those days where you hit a few bad shots and the course kicks you in the ass. I take away a lot from it knowing if I’m on my game I’m good enough to be out here.
“My first ever professional tournament was the Open so I was thrown in the deep end which is a little scary at the start with so many things going on but I couldn’t be happier that my first major was the Open. There are lots of positives but it strings right now because I was in a good position to make the cut. I rarely play to make cuts. I was one-over at the start of the round and I had few good chances the first few holes to give myself a cushion. Two birdies in the first six gets you four ahead of the cut line and you can be conservative on the back nine and make pars. The double on eight put me behind the 8-ball but there are so many positives from the week and they will come to the surface in a few days but right now it’s a little bit sore.”
Reflecting on his experience, Maguire was roared on by a strong Laytown & Bettystown crowd while he got to share the fairways with no more than five major champions culminating in four Claret Jugs and two Green Jackets.
“I played with a lot of major winners this week. I had Patrick and I had a great one on Wednesday with four Claret Jugs between us! I was the only one that didn’t have one.
“Charl is a fantastic guy. I think yesterday we didn’t really speak much and he was battling an injury and I was trying to focus on myself.
“But today we talked a lot, and he said there on 18, he said it’s probably the best swing he’s ever seen. Obviously, look, it’s a nice consolation walking up the 18th green and Charl Schwartzel, one of the best ball strikers of his time when he won the Masters, to say that I have one of the best swings he’s ever seen is really nice.
“Then Rikuya, who made the cut, yesterday he was all over the place and then today he made — I think he might have shot 2-under. Phenomenal golf. I mean he sort of battled his way back and I was delightful to see him, because he was such a nice guy.
“He didn’t have much English but even when he lost a ball on 5 and he was profusely thanking us for helping him looking for the golf ball he was so, so nice. So to see him make the cut and have a nice pay weekend this weekend, yeah, it’s great.”
Maguire will dust himself down and head to the Bonallack Trophy from August 3-5 in La Manga as he looks to add more silverware to an already glittering amateur career.