Some things you can plan, others you simply can’t. Almost as if fate decreed it, David Carey was on the seventh hole of his second round in The 150th Open on the Old Course, at a point where it crosses with the 11th, and who should be there at that very moment in time? None other than Tiger Woods. Waiting. Watching.
And with Woods there are enormous crowds, which might explain the huge roar that lifted into the skies when Carey hit his approach to 12 feet and rolled in the birdie, one of six the 26-year-old Dubliner claimed in a round of 67 for a midway total of 139, five under par, that thrust him into the business end of this historic championship.
Of recalling soaking in the acclaim from the galleries, he remarked: “I’m a compete show off. The more people that’s there, the better. It’s great. I’ve always loved having people around, the more people the better.”
Carey is into his eighth season as a professional having jumped into the shark pool when still a teenager, plying his trade on the Alps Tour, effectively the third tier in Europe.
He has stepped on to world golf’s biggest stage with both calmness and the kind of self-belief that led Pádraig Harrington to observe: “I think he’s got the traits that he might just think that this is his place, and that’s what you’ve got to do … he believes in himself. He backs himself. He’s pig-headed. He does his thing, which is very, very good.”
Carey is for sure his own man. He’s a disciple, as it were, of Ben Hogan, which explains the white flat cap. And embroidered into the cap are the initials and numbers “DC57″ to remind one and all that he once shot a 57 in winning the Cervino Open in Italy on the Alps Tour, which is the lowest score by any professional in a world ranking event.
Coached by Shane O’Grady, another Hogan advocate, and with two drivers in his bag in not seeing the need to carry a 3-wood on the firm moonscape landscape, Carey managed to stay sane in getting a poor first round draw that had him finishing in near darkness in the first round (for a 72). He then kicking on wonderfully in a second round that brought a run of four straight birdies at one point, from the ninth to the 13th, in a 67 that saw him move up the leaderboard and comfortably make the cut and start to think of the next phase.
“I drove it a lot better, hit more fairways which gave me more chances. It is definitely moving in the right way … I definitely feel I can shoot lower than I did today, if I do that I can try get as far up there as I can and then I just have to see what everyone else ahead of me does. All I can do is control my scores,” he said.
And as he moves ever upwards, there are the possible financial rewards on offer. And, again, Carey shows he is his own man.
“I don’t play this game for money, not that I don’t want it, that’s a nice thing to come along when you do well, but I play to win golf tournaments. My goal will be to try get myself into a position to win and if not to try and finish as high as I can.
“Anybody who knows me or who has played a lot of golf with me will tell you this is not unexpected, we have just been waiting for the right moment and I have got through the cut now and it is about trying to make the most of it, to push up and finish as high as I can.”
What Carey has done exceptionally well through the two rounds is to drive the ball well, not finding a single fairway bunker through 36 holes and avoiding any of the out-of-bounds that lurks to the right and loops its way out and back on the old links.
And while a young man focused on his game and of where his ability can take him, it was refreshing to see how he also managed to enjoy the experience as he engaged in banter with is local caddie Dave Williams – taking the focus off golf occasionally to talk things Manchester United and the size of the crowds – and exchanging jokes with spotters and marshals as he made his way around.
“I have definitely enjoyed it a little bit but there is a lot of business as well. I will definitely enjoy it more when I look back on it. There’s the talking and laughing with the caddies and marshals but, apart from that, it is focusing on the job.”
A big, and potentially career- and life-changing, weekend ahead.