Matt Ford has spent decades trying to qualify for the World Open. Now, he’s playing the biggest one yet

The claret jug is not going to be lifted inside St. AndrewsScotland, till Sunday, however English golfer Matt Ford had already secured the victory of a lifetime: qualifying for Open Championship.

The 44-year-old has racked up tens of 1000’s of photographs in additional than 280 championships, however when he drives off the opening tee of the previous session Thursday, it is going to be his first swing in a significant championship, in knowledgeable profession spanning practically 20 years.

Ford turned skilled in 2003, however his efforts to make it to The Open started as an newbie. Qualifier defeat included to the long run gents The winner is Trevor Immelman, and has since been a finalist a number of occasions.

“I attempted to work it out the opposite day, what number of occasions have I attempted,” Ford informed CNN, deciding on an estimate of 24 makes an attempt with out success to date.

The son of knowledgeable soccer participant, Ford grew up within the English city of Swindon, eager to observe in his father’s footsteps. Having chosen a membership for the primary time solely on the age of ten, it wasn’t till he completed college on the age of 18 that he threw himself into pursuing golf full time.

“I cherished soccer but it surely was additionally very irritating, whereas golf is all about your self,” Ford stated.

“Though golf is simply a recreation of management, you may nonetheless management rather a lot in a person sport.”

Ford plays outside the bunker during the Srixon PGA Playoff in October 2009.

Turning skilled on the age of 25, Ford obtained off to a powerful begin, competing within the 2005 BMW PGA Championship (previously the British PGA Championship) at Wentworth.

Competing on one of many European Tour’s excursions gave the Englishman an enormous confidence increase, however by 2013 he was on the verge of transferring away from the game. Regardless of a number of different appearances on the European Tour (for now DP World Tour), Ford has spent the overwhelming majority of his profession on the Vitamins collection, the Problem Tour.

Problem Tour Challenges

5 rounds in second place had been a spotlight, however the fixed lengthy journeys all over the world to the programs far much less luxurious than the European Excursions and the PGA Excursions have taken their toll mentally and, above all, financially.

Solely the highest 10 contestants within the 156-player subject on the Problem Tour “realistically” win sufficient prize cash to assist the price of enjoying the occasion, with Ford estimating that greater than half of the remaining gamers lose greater than $1,000 per week.

At Ford’s personal discretion, he misplaced extra money than he earned, and along with his spouse, Susie, and two younger kids to assist, the stress of “enjoying to reside” in each sense of the phrase was a problem.

“The variety of occasions I’ve thought of giving up this recreation and as lots of people say, ‘getting a good job’, it has been onerous,” he stated.

“It is emotional due to the best way my household has supported me. I did not essentially make as a lot cash as I wish to make it comfy.”

Ford shoots from a tee during the Spain Challenge in Cadiz, Spain, in May.

A significant breakthrough ensued in late 2014 when Ford earned his ticket to the European Tour qualifying college, opening the door for him to compete in practically 60 European Excursions over the subsequent two years.

He misplaced his card earlier than the 2017 season, however saved pulling out till he discovered himself competing within the remaining playoffs for the Open Qualifier Event at Prince’s Golf Membership in Kent, England, in July.

An enthusiastic begin to spherical two put Ford in a commanding place at 5-under heading into the ultimate 10 holes of qualifying, earlier than dropping 4 photographs via the subsequent 4 holes that regarded like they might open a well-known chapter in his open qualifying story.

“You begin to surprise, ‘Did you blow it up?'” he recollects. What did you do? you fool “.

Nonetheless, when Susie and the 2 children obtained to the final six holes after college, they watched Ford fly to an incredible end. He shot an eagle on his solution to selecting up these 4 hits he misplaced to complete 5-under and qualify to win the occasion, two factors off second.

Ford lines up and hits his 14th green during the Italian Open Challenge Championships in Viterbo, Italy, in July.

“Greatest ever”

Along with fulfilling his childhood dream of enjoying the World Open – the historic a hundred and fiftieth version on the legendary previous monitor – Ford can be pleased to share the expertise along with his household.

“Sorry lecturers,” his children obtained their very own rating with days off to look at their dad compete in Scotland. determined to satisfy tiger woodenFord has already delivered on his promise, tweeting a photograph of his daughter with the three-time Open Champion on Wednesday.

“They’re as pleased and excited as I’m,” he stated. “The tournaments they walked round with me, they had been in a position to watch each single shot and there weren’t many individuals round.

“It may make it loopy in St. Andrews with so many individuals… It may be a giant occasion, individuals say it is going to be one of many largest ever.”

Expertise, potential wage and alternatives that will seem in future DP World Tour occasions; Ford cites many causes to be excited this week. Nonetheless, when the lifelong aim was to achieve the primary tee, what finish aim is now about to be there?

“Am I pondering of successful the championship? No, probably not,” Ford stated. “However there isn’t any purpose why I am unable to have an ideal week and who is aware of what might occur. That is golf and if I can run, you do not know.

Golf legend Tom Watson remembers his open classic at St Andrews

“I do not set myself numerous particular targets other than the smile on my face and I benefit from the week. If I do, I hope to realize some good targets.”

Regardless of the end result, it actually will not be because of an absence of effort.

Ford is scheduled to kick off its first spherical at 11:15 a.m. GMT (6:15 a.m. ET) on Thursday.