Darren Wright is set to test his skills at the undisputed home of golf as he goes looking for another victory in a high-profile amateur event this weekend.
The Rowlands Castle star secured a fine win at the Welsh Amateur recently but will go up against the Old Course in his quest for further honours in the St Andrews Links Trophy.
Wright and Corhampton’s Neil Raymond will each play one round on the New Course and one on the Old Course but will be eager to make the halfway cut to get two extra rounds on the Open Championship venue that dates back more than 600 years and is the birthplace of the sport.
And while Wright remains focused on another good performance to boost his Walker Cup hopes, he admits he gets affected by the aura of St Andrews.
Wright said: ‘It’s a huge incentive to make the cut to get two extra rounds on there.
‘This is my third year playing in this event. The first year I missed the cut and the second year I was about 20th, so I’m looking to do better this time.
‘I’ve played the Old Course a few times and there’s an incredible atmosphere around the whole place.
‘I’ve never done anything special around there before – I think I shot a couple under last year in one round – but I haven’t been playing my best when I’ve been at this tournament before.’
While it’s easy to get distracted at the Old Course, the course itself can yield good scores if conditions allow.
Wright said: ‘The greens are so hard but it’s probably one of its only defences, unless the wind is really blowing.
‘You need to hit the right part of the green to keep three putts off your card, but it’s not always that easy.’
Wright saw the conditions wreck his hopes of back-to-back wins at last week’s Scottish Amateur but he still came in with a top-20 finish. But having registered a victory already, he admits that the pressure has eased.
He said: ‘Last week it was blowing a hurricane and this week it’s raining and pretty windy.
‘It’s what you expect when you come up here but it would be nice to have one morning when it’s not raining and blowing gale-force winds!
‘We’re into a stretch of big tournaments and my aim was to win one of them.
‘To win the Welsh was a great start for me. I played the Scottish last week and played solidly but the wind in the last round was all over the place and made it pretty tough.
‘But I’m going into every event with a lot of confidence and I’m looking to take advantage of getting that win early.
‘It takes the pressure off a little bit, I suppose, knowing that you’ve already got that result under your belt.
‘With the Walker Cup this year, winners stand out from the crowd when it comes to selection.
‘So it makes a difference knowing I have already got that win, rather than getting to the last three or four events of the year thinking “I need a win to give myself a chance”.
‘I can now try to go out and win another one.’