WA's Kiran Day feels he’s better prepared to tackle some of the UK’s greatest golfing tests over the coming month.
Day, 20, is one of a 14 man Australian squad travelling together to play the Scottish Strokeplay which starts tomorrow at Gullane Golf Club. The group will then visit the home of golf for the St Andrews Links Trophy before heading to Wales for The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig.
Joining Day in the Aussie contingent are Victorians David Micheluzzi, Cameron John, Brett Coletta, Zach Murray and Blake Collyer, Queenslanders Anthony Quayle, Charlie Dann and Steven Cox, and New South Welshmen Cameron Davis, Travis Smyth, Harrison Endycott and Blake Windred.
The trip mirrors a tough 2015 UK tour for Day, with his best result coming from a T37 finish at St Andrews.
“From last year I’m more aware of what to expect. It’s very foreign compared to the courses we play in WA, so it obviously requires different shots and a different strategy,” said Day.
“In links golf there's a lot of clubbing up and hitting more three-quarter shots to take the spin off the ball to get more control in the wind. As a player I feel more equipped and I’ve implemented a lot more of this knowledge in my preparation. Last year I thought I’d be able to adapt and just played my usual game.”
Day will hope to start his tour on a positive note at Gullane’s No.1 course, which contributed 16 holes to the composite course that hosted the 2015 Scottish Open won by Ricky Fowler.
Gullane is just one of the many historic courses along Scotland’s eastern coastline that faces the North Sea, located just over a kilometre from Muirfield. The course itself is so old that no-one is quite sure who designed it — but unlike most links courses it features plenty of height variation as it winds around Gullane Hill.
From Edinbrough the group will head north to St Andrews. In 2015 Day made the cut from an opening round 71 at the New Course, but struggled at the Old Course with back to back rounds of 77.
“St Andrews is just an awesome place to be. The whole place revolves around golf and it’s pretty cool to walk around town,” said Day.
“The Old Course is so unique which throws up a lot of challenges. Last year I was at the back of the green and into the wind that I was hitting three quarter pitching wedges short from just off the green,” said Day.
“The pin sheets are funny to look at as it says 97 on, 52 from the left – so GIR statistics aren’t that useful over there because you kind of need to hit it in the right spots or you’re facing a 200ft putt. So I’ll do lots and lots of that when I’m over there and take the focus off ball striking, as that’s going to be what it’s going to be — but if I can sharpen up my short game and my putting, then that’s where I can save the most shots.”
The next stop will take Day to Wales for The Amateur Championship — one of just a handful of events given Elite status in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. The event sees 288 golfers competing for just 64 matchplay spots over two strokeplay rounds.
Day has heard plenty about one of the host courses after a chance encounter with Peter “Chooky” Fowler at last year’s Perth International.
“The Senior Open Championship was there a year ago and Chooky told me a lot about it when we played together at the Pro-am,” said Day.
“They’ve had some pretty big events there and we discussed the course and he’s always really helpful with everything he has to say. He’s going to try and get his yardage book to me too.”
Born in Perth, Day spent much of his younger years in England before returning to Australia at the age of 11. This trip includes a homecoming of sorts, with Day registered to contest regional British Open qualifying at Burhill Golf Club, where he used to be a member.
Day will use Burhill as his base while in the UK, staying with his former coach who has offered to caddy for the trip. Day expects a score of even or better is usually good enough to advance through the regionals, but knows it will only get harder if he advances through to the final stage. It’s a big ask, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This is why we play, to compete in big international events. It’s the best way to test yourself and see what you’ve got.”