Marker McNicoll fulfils his Open dream
His name won’t appear on any leaderboards but Keir McNicoll doesn’t care – he can finally say he’s fulfilled his childhood dream of playing at The Open.
As Friday’s final three-ball came up the 18th, no-one was more invested than Senior PGA Assistant Professional at Carnoustie.
As the man slated to be the marker on Saturday morning if an odd number of players made the cut, he just needed Gavin Green to avoid a double bogey and confirm himself as the 79th pro here for the weekend.
Green did – just – as he made bogey, meaning McNicoll would have the chance to play 18 holes alongside the Malaysian as the first pair out in the third round.
For a 34-year-old born and bred in Carnoustie, who had failed to qualify for The Open half-a-dozen times previously, the opportunity was the realisation of a lifelong ambition, so he can be forgiven for getting choked up.
Due to an odd number of players making the cut at @TheOpen, our Senior Assistant PGA Pro @KeirMcNicoll was given the honour of being the marker for today, with his sister @katy_mcnicoll on the bag.— Carnoustie Golf Links (@carnoustiegolf) July 21, 2018
Here's his opening drive at The 147th Open🏌️♂️ #TheOpen pic.twitter.com/BlRi2chfX5
“It was scary and I was a bit emotional on the first tee,” said McNicoll, who reckons he shot about an 80 – with a birdie on the 3rd hole but quadruple-bogey on the 8th. “But to walk out with those hundreds of people watching and cheering was so cool.
“It’s the hardest round I’ve ever played out here – I’m not playing that well, so just to get it airborne off the first was great.
“I dreamed about playing in The Open as a kid, so I was properly emotional on the first tee. If I had qualified here, I don’t know what I would’ve done.
“I’ve caddied before, back in 2005 at St Andrews for Eric Ramsay, which was amazing in itself as it was Jack Nicklaus’s last Open.
“It was brilliant caddying for one of my best friends in Eric but this kind of trumps it!”
McNicoll ensured it was a family affair by having his sister Katy – an Assistant Professional at Gullane, which hosted the Scottish Open last week – on the bag for him, something he says was an easy decision.
“Katy is home for a few days from Gullane and she’s an experienced caddie,” added McNicoll.
“She caddies for [Ladies European Tour player] Kelsey MacDonald quite a lot – and she’s been on the bag for me at a couple of tournaments before. It was good to have her there and she loved it too.”
Presuming there are no withdrawals, McNicoll will get to repeat the experience on Sunday morning with the player at the bottom of the leaderboard heading into the final round.
But before that, he has a day job to do because playing at The Open doesn’t negate your normal responsibilities.
“I was in the shop at 4.30am on Friday morning, then I was working throughout the day, so I was too tired to even go to the range when I found out I would be playing at 9pm,” explained McNicoll.
“I’m working this afternoon as well! I’ll go in about 3pm or 4pm and work until 10pm in the shop, just looking after the guests and families in case anyone is looking to buy mementoes or souvenirs.
“I got up at 6am this morning but I only live 100 yards around the corner, so it’s not too bad. My duties in the shop, the general coaching and the coaching of juniors I do here are always my priority.”
TheOpen.com is the only place to get all the latest news from The 147th Open at Carnoustie. This time next year, The Open will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
Be part of the biggest party in golf in 2019. Get immediate access to Priority tickets for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush when you sign up today to join The One Club for free. Simply go to www.TheOpen.com/PortrushTickets.