Dave Coupland believes he will return to The Open a better and wiser golfer.
The 30-year-old Bostonian booked his place at one of the sport’s most prestigious competitions last Tuesday, shooting a birdie in the play-off after finishing joint-second in the qualifier at Southport’s Hillside Golf Club.
And that means he will be in action at Royal Troon next Thursday (July 14) in the 145th Open, rubbing shoulders with some of golf’s greatest players.
It has been nine years since Coupland’s last appearance at The Open, where he missed the cut by six shots at Carnoustie.
“Nine years is a long wait, but some players never get to compete at The Open, so to be there twice in nine years is a great achievement and one that I’m very proud of,” said Coupland, who is attached to Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet, and it probably won’t until I’m on the journey up there.
“To be in this situation again is a nice feeling - I don’t know where those nine years have gone.”
That near-decade since Coupland’s last appearance at The Open has seen the Challenge Tour player grow as a sportsman and as a person, and he believes he will have a better chance of success this time around.
“I think I’m a little bit better for the experience last time,” he admitted.
“I learned a lot from the last one.
“With being so young last time I got caught up in all the hype.
“I was like a kid in a sweet shop and got distracted from my actual job.
“But now I’m a lot more experienced.
“Before I would say ‘yes’ to everything, all the media. But now I know to focus on what I have to do and make that the priority.”
But while Dave believes he has evolved, he is in no doubt that the game has also moved along rapidly. However, giving himself the chance to prove his worth against the sport’s great and good offers him nothing but inspiration.
He told The Standard: “The game’s changed a lot in that time, there are so many more better players, younger players.
“It will be great to rub shoulders with them and to look at players like Jordan Spieth, and to learn by watching them in action.”
Past Open champions at Royal Troon include Justin Leonard, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Watson, Tom Weiskopf, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Locke, and Arthur Havers.
The last six Opens at Troon have all been won by Americans.