HARTLEPOOL amateur Alex Wrigley has only been playing full-time golf for three months – but this week he will be bidding for a place in the Open.
The 22-year-old is just two rounds away from taking his spot at the prestigious Royal Lytham & St Annes showcase championship in July.
That is thanks to his winning return during last week’s regional qualifier in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where he shot a new course record of 66.
Wrigley will now take on 79 other hopefuls at St Annes in Blackpool on Tuesday knowing that a top-three finish would book his place at the Open.
It charts a remarkable rise for the former English Martyrs pupil, who, in March, gave up his job as a coach at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Wynyard in a bid to turn professional and make it on to the European Tour.
That remains his ultimate goal but, for now, he is focused on Tuesday’s final qualifier.
“This is a fantastic opportunity but I know it will be extremely tough,” said Wrigley, who lives in Dunston Road in the town.
“There’ll be 10 players there from the European Tour and players who have a far better CV than me.
“But it’s only two rounds of golf and if I can get out there and keep my nerves under control then anything could happen.
“To qualify would just be incredible and a dream come true – it’s certainly on my Bucket List before I die!”
Wrigley won his big chance thanks to that course-record round of 66 last week, and he reflected: “Myself and my friend Andrew Scrimshaw (from Close House) tied for the lead and it was nice to get the course record.
“But everything just went right for me and I played some nice golf.
“It’s been coming to be honest and I went into the qualifier feeling pretty confident that I could get through.
“The conditions were bad and there were a lot of high scores but I managed to keep my ball on the fairways and got six birdies with no bogeys, which was very pleasing.
“A lot of good players didn’t get through so I’ve got to take confidence from that going into Tuesday.”
Wrigley now plays out of Hartlepool Golf Club and coaches there to support his bid to turn pro.
And he went on: “In March I decided to give up my full-time job at Wynyard.
“It was great and I enjoyed it, but if I’m serious about making the Tour then I had to go full-time.
“I’m going to give myself eight years to achieve that, which seems like an age, but that’s how long it takes and they say you need 10,000 hours of practice.
“All I’ve got to do is keep on improving and I’ve already seen a massive improvement in the past three months.
“I’m playing on the North East and North West Regional Tour and play at some of the National PGA events.
“But I’ve been playing since I was eight years old and this has always been my dream, so I’m going to give it my best shot.”