An unexpected invitation last Friday to join the likes of Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau and Tyrell Hatton in the field for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next month has given Jake McCleod a perspective on where his fledgling golf status currently stands.
And the 24-year-old Queenslander, who recently secured his card for the Asian PGA Tour in 2019, wants to use this recent recognition, and his good form, to add his name to the list of champions who have won the Isuzu Queensland Open.
The 2018 Isuzu Queensland Golf Open will be played at The Brisbane Golf Club from November 1-4, just a month after Townsville-born McLeod tees it up at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.
“I have played some good golf this year and while I have not won, I’ve had some very satisfying results,” he said at the weekend.
“But this news is really pleasing. Because I finished 15th on the Australasian Order of Merit last year I thought I may have been a chance of an invite, so when the news came through I was pretty stoked.
“Without doubt, this will be the biggest event of my career so far.”
While naturally keen to play well in Scotland, where he has never been before, McLeod also has a burning ambition to fire at the Isuzu Queensland Open.
He played three years as an amateur before he turned professional in October 2015 and his tied fourth finish that year – as an amateur – is, disappointingly, his best result.
“I turned pro on a high a few months after that very satisfying performance, but then missed the cut in 2016 and was tied 24th last year,” he recalled.
“So, I have some unfinished business at the course where I am a member and where I train three days a week with the QAS squad when I’m at home. It would cap off a pretty good year if I could win it.”
His ‘pretty good year’ included second at the prestigious Royal Cup in Thailand in July, fifth at the Queensland PGA, sixth at the Fiji International and tenth placings at both the New Zealand Open and the Take Solutions Masters in India. And the $130,000 in prizemoney hasn’t harmed his bank account, either.
“My goal at the start of the year was to gain an overseas tour card – preferably in Asia – and I have achieved that,” he said.
“Next year I want to play more of the bigger events in Asia with my overall goal to secure a European Tour card and then, ultimately, join the USPGA Tour. But I am happy to take small steps and the trip to Scotland in a few weeks is sure to be an eye opener, and a terrific experience.”
Despite his recent rise in status – he is now 387 in the world rankings – Jake keeps his feet well and truly on the ground. Last Sunday he carried the bag for his good mate James Mee for 33 holes during the match-play final to decide the Royal Queensland Club Championship for 2018. And James won the championship, just as Jake did back in 2015 – a few months before his best-ever finish at the Isuzu Queensland Open.
Maybe James will return the favour in November and carry the bag for Jake as he chases a prize he covets – the 2018 Isuzu Queensland Open.
Visit www.qldopen.com.au for more information on the Isuzu Queensland Open