GRAEME Storm is just five days away from making his second crack at one of golf’s greatest events.
The Hartlepool star will compete in the US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina this Thursday.
Storm reached the second of golf’s four major 2014 tournaments by finishing equal fifth at the international qualifier at Walton Heath last month.
The 36-year-old Poolie played in the 2006 tournament at Winged Foot, where he failed to make the cut.
Making the cut will be the first challenge for Storm at the testing par 72 course.
And to prepare as best he can for the US Open, he has given the latest European Tour event, the Lyoness Open in Austria, a miss.
“I gave Austria miss, just so I can get over there a couple of days earlier and get acclimatised and prepared,” Storm told SportMail.
“It has been a difficult year for me and I went to qualify for the US Open to play in another tournament to try to build up my ranking points.
“My aim this year is to retain my Tour card and playing in the US Open can help me.
“I’ll need to make the cut to earn myself some money and points and that’s my first aim.”
The 2014 programme has produced more lows than highs for the Hartlepool Golf Club member.
He has suffered a number of missed cuts though he has played the entire four days at two of the last three European tournaments and played some excellent golf in testing conditions at Walton Heath, where he came through a star-studded field.
Storm says he has benefited from the presence of a new caddie - Yokshireman Sam Haywood.
“It has been a tough year for me,” Storm admitted.
“Sam has been great, he’s helped bring me to life a bit.
“Playing in America should be a great time and I’m looking forward to it.”
Storm has played little stateside though he is not completely without experience across the Atlantic.
He finished in a tie for seventh at the 2008 WGC Championship in Florida and has played in the US Masters.
But one of his proudest moments came in the 2007 US PGA Championship.
Just weeks after winning the French Open, Storm led after the first round of the fourth Major in the calendar.
The Poolie shot a five-under par 65 at Southern Hills Country Club to lead some of the biggest names in the sport at the USPGA at the end of the first round.
He was unable to carry that form through the entire event and finished in a tie for 62nd, but he showed that, on his day, he can match the best.
Storm will be looking for more of that this week.