Alex Maguire is set to make his major championship debut next week at the Open Championship in Royal Liverpool but he already has his own Open memories from twelve months ago.
In fact, Maguire also had his moment on the famous Swilcan Bridge, walking over it with his father when he lifted the St Andrews Links Trophy last month but he admits it pales in comparison to seeing the great Tiger Woods make that journey for what could have been the final time at the Home of Golf.
He was beside the Swilcan Bridge as Tiger and Rory – who was walking up the shared first fairway – stopped and tipped their cap to each other as a teary eyed Woods walked up the 18th on Friday at last year’s Open Championship.
“Gutted Tiger isn’t going would have been class to meet him!” Maguire says when asked what golfing stars he would like to meet this week in Hoylake.
“I was there on 18 at St Andrews last year I went over with a few friends and we were adjacent to the Swilcan Bridge as he was going over he took the cap off. It was the most incredible scene because when he walked off he tipped the cap to Rory who was walking by and vice versa. Everyone was cheering for ten minutes. It was goosebumps straight away, I had seen him play but it would have been nice to chat to him next week for even just a few minutes. It’s Tiger.”
The Laytown & Bettystown star will venture over to Merseyside today ahead of the 151st Open Championship where he plans to play all three practice days before Thursday’s opening round, meaning he will have nine chances to play with some of golf’s biggest stars and Jordan Spieth is top of the list.
“Scottie Scheffler I would love to play golf with because he’s playing incredible at the moment but I would be a big Jordan Spieth fan. Out of the Americans people have their preferences whether it be Justin Thomas, Spieth and Finau but I’m a big Spieth fan and have been since he went on that great run in 2014 and 2015.
“Being able to meet all the guys, you can’t play with all of them you can only play with nine max in the three days of practice so to be able to get a few pictures and talk to Jordan and Thomas or Scottie would be great.
“Spieth is box office, he is so entertaining I don’t know what it is, just something about him makes me like him a lot. Back when he was putting well I would go cack-handed and do his putting stroke and look at the hole! I liked how he went about his business, if I get to meet him that will be huge bonus.”
The 22-year-old earned an exemption into the Open after winning the Open Amateur Series where he accumulated the most WAGR points from the St Andrews Links Trophy (WON), The Amateur Championship (QF), and European Amateur Championship (DNP) and he says it won’t fully sink in until he touches down at Royal Liverpool.
“It sunk in the fact that I’m going to be able to play at the Open but the excitement and the joy I don’t think will come until the day I go over there just with the schedule with European Teams so I’m waiting to get that out of the way before I can fully think about it.
“It’s nice having the ability and stress to worry about accommodation and logistics with tickets, it’s a great stress to be worrying about your first major. Every few minutes I cop myself that I’m playing the Open and it’s a feeling I can’t describe so yeah, it won’t set in until the Sunday I get over there.
“The phone has been hopping which has been great, so many different apps I am being texted on but the support has been incredible. The good things that come with playing well are great and I would happily take the downsides for what I have achieved this year so far. It’s been all go around the Open so far, just hope I have everything sorted, tried not to leave it last minute Giving most of it to my dad to take care of!”
Ireland will have five players vying for the Claret Jug next week and Maguire will become the third Irish amateur to appear in a major championship this year after the exploits of Matthew McClean (Masters & US Open) and Aine Donegan (US Women’s Open).
“I’ve been told the Irish look after the Irish so they’ve always been helpful to me. I played with Shane a few years ago and he was great at giving me advice and tips and he gave me a lot of advice going forward for travelling and being on my own, I would love to catch up with Rory, Shane, Seamus and Padraig, to be one of the five Irish there is very surreal.
“I watched James Sugrue in two majors after he won the British AM you don’t see many Irish in majors just because there are so few chances to get it. Seeing Matt win the US Mid-Am last year was incredible and to play in the Masters and see his name at the top of the leaderboard after a few hole was surreal and I was so proud to see an Irish guy lead a major especially the Masters and Aine at the US Open was fantastic you know, given what she had to deal with regarding her golf clubs.
“To have three amateurs playing in majors is incredible. I’m so excited to represent Ireland on the world stage and I just hope I can do Ireland proud next week.”