My First Open - Level-headed Locke embracing his Carnoustie chance
Sam Locke was just another face in the crowd when he attended his first Open five years ago.
The 13-year old arrived early and left late, joining the throngs as he followed his heroes around Muirfield, including eventual Champion Golfer Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Now the 19-year old - who earned his spot at Carnoustie by winning Final Qualifying at The Renaissance Club - is back as a player and embracing being watched rather than watching.
Locke is one of four amateurs contesting the Silver Medal and will partner American Brandt Snedeker and Australian Cameron Davis, two established PGA Tour winners, for the first two rounds.
“My first Open was 2013 at Muirfield and the conditions were pretty similar too,” recalls Locke.
“I was watching them and trying to learn, see how they deal with all the crowds and attention.
“I remember following Rory for a few holes and Phil Mickelson and Tiger. I just tried to pick up bits and pieces from them that I could take for my own game. My goal was always to be amongst the best players in the world.
“It’s pretty cool to be in a locker room with all your idols from when you were younger. You’ve got to try and take it in and enjoy it because it’s your first Open but I’ve also got to concentrate on playing.
“When it’s game day and I’m not here to put anyone on a pedestal, I’ll be all about me. I’m excited about the attention to be honest.
“I know people say I have nothing to lose this week but obviously I have my own goals I have set for myself.
“I like people coming and watching. I see it as a positive, it’s a chance to show people what you can do, it’s something I really enjoy.”
Locke has a cheering squad of friends and family following him at Carnoustie and walked the course with Paul Lawrie on Monday, who famously won the 1999 Open on these fabled links.
He is part of Lawrie’s junior golf foundation, whose logo he will proudly wear. And interestingly his main advice was not to get “starry-eyed” about finding himself keeping company with players he has long admired.
“I walked around with Paul on Monday and we’ve texted a few times,” he added.
“I’ve got to be my own man, he’s the one that keeps telling me that. He’s done everything in the game and to have him there is just a fantastic support. Not many kids have that kind of person behind them.”
Locke also likes his draw, with his three-ball first on the course on Friday - giving him a chance to perhaps make an early name for himself in the clubhouse.
“Brandt’s had an amazing career and I’m happy with our tee times. Being first out for the second round gives us a chance to get out there early and post a number.”
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