by Justin Falconer at Royal Portrush
Jake McLeod on Tuesday during the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Jake McLeod has been waiting for eight months, but the young Queenslander is ready to live his dream in The Open this week.
McLeod finished third at the Australian Open in November in Sydney and then took one of the three tickets to Royal Portrush as part of the Open Qualifying Series.
Just days away from his big debut PGA Tour stars, Justin Thomas and Charley Hoffman booked a practice round at McLeod, and the young cannon suddenly realized that this would not be a normal week.
"It is very special to be sure here. I am super pumped up," McLeod said.
"When I walked in I didn't feel much different, but when you're here and see the setup of the golf course and all the people here in a practice round on a Monday.
"It's pretty special, everyone claps in a practice round, which doesn't matter.
"The last hole, walking up there was super special, so that makes it great on Thursday."
McLeod & # 39; s hot summer home started with a first pro win at the NSW Open the week before the Australian Open at The Lakes.
He then achieved the top position on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour or Australasia Order of Merit the following week on the Gold Coast, McLeod earned a European Tour card for 2019 in the process.
So far he has not been able to regain the form in which he fell from 437th to 160th in the world ranking in two weeks.
But the former Queensland teammate of Cam Smith is relaxing this week in Northern Ireland after a difficult first full year in Europe.
"I haven't thought too much about it," McLeod said.
"It has been very different this year, traveled a lot through Europe. It has actually been quite difficult, but I am sitting in good shape now and I am really looking forward to having a good week this week.
"There have been a few weeks there where it wasn't great. It's pretty lonely and it's boring, when you're done with golf there's not much to do.
"Many of the Aussies, we try to keep eating together and practice together. I get along well with all the boys, hanging out with Scriv (Jason Scrivener), Sam Brazel and Dimi (Papadatos) are here and then every now and then.
"I'm starting to enjoy it much more now than at the beginning of the year."
In a welcome news, McLeod is grouped with familiar faces Erik Van Rooyen and Kurt Kitayama for the opening of two rounds (from 9:20 AM AEST on Thursday).
But as is natural, McLeod expects there will be some serious nerves at the first tee when he starts his big championship career.
"It's going to be very special," McLeod said.
"I'll be super nervous on the first tee, but I'll just go out and try to have some fun and play as well as possible.
"I was just pumped to play there."