Nick McCarthy was The Open’s newest qualifier and still on a high from events of 24 hours earlier when he arrived at his digs in rural Northumberland ahead of his next competition. If he needed a reality check, this was it.
‘Nine of us in one house, four in the same bedroom and all we have is bunkbeds,’ says the 29-year-old, who will debut at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.
‘It certainly brought me back down to earth.’
Nick McCarthy will take part in his first Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on Thursday
The 29-year-old spoke to Sportsmail's Craig Hope about the euphoria of qualifying
McCarthy - a member of the PGA EuroPro Tour - lives with his parents in Moortown, Leeds. He earned just £5,093 on the tour in 2016 and, reluctantly, made plans to quit.
‘Still being at home is one of the sacrifices I have to make,’ he says as we sit in the clubhouse of Rockliffe Hall Golf Club in County Durham, where he has just taken part in the North of England Open Foursomes. Indeed, he has a chance of winning.
‘You watch the guys on TV and the contracts they have and everyone assumes, “Ah, you play golf, you must make a right living”.
‘But the level I’m at is like the third division. You pay for everything - food, petrol, accommodation. To get that back you almost have to finish in the top 10 out of 160 at every competition.
‘So you don’t have any money. Every penny you use for the next event. Last year I was ready to pull the plug.
‘I applied to the PGA to start a three-year course after which you can run a golf shop or teach. The course fell through at the last minute and I carried on playing. What a twist of fate that turned out to be.’
McCarthy, who lives with his parents, contemplated quitting last year after a meagre season
The EuroTour player had to settle for a bunk bed ahead of a competition in Northumberland
McCarthy begins his first round at 4.05pm on Thursday with Jbe’ Kruger of South Africa and Australia’s Ashley Hall. Their second round begins at 11.04am on Friday.
He is a 2000-1 shot to win the title come Sunday afternoon.
On July 4 at Hillside Golf Club - next door to Royal Birkdale - McCarthy led the field going into the final round of Open Qualifying.
He was still in the hunt for one of three places at this week’s major when he teed off on the 17th. He winces as he takes up the tale.
‘I ripped my tee shot straight down the middle, perfect,’ says McCarthy, whose caddie is his dad, David, a former England amateur who was also on the bag of Howard Clark at the 1981 Open.
'The next shot was so natural, dad handed me the three wood. Somehow, though, I blocked it way, way right.
‘I hoped it might be okay because there were 50 spectators there and surely we’d find it. Five minutes later I was still searching and there was no sign. Part of me was thinking, “I’m looking for my chance to play at The Open here”. It was a horrible feeling.’
He recovered from the lost ball to make bogey and figured he would need to make up for that