THE MEMORY of narrowly missing out on a place in the Open championship two years ago will spur on Moortown’s Nick McCarthy when he takes the final step towards claiming a spot at St Andrews next month to play alongside the world’s elite.
McCarthy came fifth at Gullance in 2013 when three tickets to Muirfield were handed out by the R&A, one of them to his fellow Yorkshireman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
The 27-year-old recalls that he “scraped through” from the Regional Qualifying on that occasion, but did it in style this time by winning Monday’s pre-penultimate stage with a two-under-par 69 over his home course.
The EuroPro Tour player had just one bogey on his card and three birdies to be the first man in the queue to get a pass to Final Qualifying.
“Up at Gullane two years ago the top three went through and I bogeyed the last, a birdieable par-4, when I needed a birdie,” said McCarthy, who has good cause to believe he can go one step better this time at Hillside. Monday’s return was his third consecutive sub-70 round.
He placed 26th in the Grenke Championship at Cumberwell Park by overwhelming the setback of a first-round 77 with a 66 and then a 69.
This came after missing four consecutive cuts and the former England Boys and Youths player puts a lot of his improved play down to working again with his older brother Duncan, who runs a sports psychology and fitness company, Ignite.
“I played solid, really solid on Monday and gave myself a lot of chances,” said McCarthy. “Unfortunately I couldn’t get many to drop, but I only had one bogey and three birdies, the rest were solid pars, so I was happy.
“I think we got the better part of the draw weather-wise being off at 7.50am so I think we were luckier than the afternoon lot.”
Duncan was caddie for the day and McCarthy says big brother did more than just carry the bag.
“I started working with Duncan again three weeks ago and that’s been a big boost,” said the 2010 Formby Hall Classic winner.
“His work has varied from helping me take a better mind set out onto the course to what I’m thinking while I’m out there.
“I found myself at the beginning of the year feeling very negatively about certain shots so he’s got me thinking more positively about the outcome of the shot.”
McCarthy flew to Scotland yesterday to practise at Newmachar GC in Aberdeen ahead of the 54-hole Paul Lawrie Foundation Granite City Classic starting today.
“Monday was a big boost and the confidence is stronger so hopefully I can carry on from my last few rounds. I can definitely see that I am improving.”
Pontefract amateur Simon Coumbe also made it through to Final Qualifying with a level-par 71 at Moortown.
Howley Hall’s Ben Hutchinson is seventh reserve after shooting 72 and that means Leeds Inter-District Union captain Tony Greenhalgh will need to find replacements for them as he formulates his line-up for Sunday’s match with Bradford at Keighley.
After a narrow 20-16 loss to Sheffield at Silkstone in their opening match, Leeds battled back from a foursomes deficit against champions York at Sand Moor to earn an 18-18 draw.