Meet Alex Smalley: The rookie aiming for the Open

Alex Smalley

Tuesday afternoon, and Alex Smalley is playing The Renaissance Club for the first time. In fact, it’s his first full day in Scotland. You wouldn’t think it.

After a tied for 16th finish at last week’s John Deere Classic, Smalley got the overnight flight to Scotland, a country he’s never visited before. He then went straight to the golf course.

While others might treat a Tuesday evening practice round as a hit-and-giggle, the 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie treats it like a tournament.

Smalley deliberates between clubs on the par-3, 17th. He eventually settles on a 5-iron, which he holds up against the wind, the ball finishing in the middle of the green.

• Spieth shuts down LIV Golf rumours

• Schauffele hits the front in Scottish Open

“He’s pretty tired,” his caddie said. “He’s not played in Scotland before, so we’re trying to get as much practice in as we can.”

Alex’s mother has also made the trip.

“It’s his first time in Scotland, so I just hope he enjoys it, and maybe has a good week, too. If it’s really good, we might be extending our stay here.”

• Jordan Smith wins TWO cars with hole-in-one

• MacIntyre "livid" after Scottish Open missed cut

Indeed. Currently, Smalley holds the third and final spot to next week’s 150th Open Championship. The top three players not currently exempt will book their spot at St Andrews, assuming they finish in the top-10.

A Saturday 67 has him in a tie for sixth, but with several non-exempt players just a shot behind, Sunday afternoon is set to be a stressful one.

For Smalley, it’s an opportunity he’s relishing. When he spoke to on Wednesday afternoon it was clear, he wants to be in the Home of Golf for as long as possible.

“I’m very excited to be here,” he said. “I remember watching the Scottish Open when I was growing up.

“This is only my second time playing links golf and I think it’s really cool. In the States, everything is through the air. Here, there’s a bunch of different shots you can play, along the ground or in the air.”

• Homa's "favourite course" is Scots links

• Fitz and Schauffele make Scottish Open move

It’s not just the style of golf that Smalley is enjoying. While this might be his first time in Scotland, he knows that fans this side of the pond appreciate top level golf, perhaps more than those back home.

“I know people in Scotland are very knowledgeable about their golf,” he explained. “From 200-yards, you hit it to 30-feet, and in the States, nobody claps. You do that here, and people clap.

“It’s not that the American fans are bad, but the spectators over here are great.

“A shot to 30-feet isn’t always a bad shot. It’s something I’m really looking forward to, getting to play in front of the Scottish fans.”

He’s no stranger to the big stage, either. The New York born pro competed in the 2017 US Open and the 2019 Walker Cup. The latter, incidentally, is the only time he’s previously played links golf.

“I like when conditions are a little tougher,” he said. “It separates the field a little better.

“Whenever I’m playing in the States and I see a day when it’s blowing, I get excited. I like playing in the wind because I know I can flight it pretty well.”

Going into the final round of the Genesis Scottish Open, Smalley sits four shots off of Xander Schauffele’s pace. While catching him is a tall order, fending off fellow St Andrews hopefuls is something well within his grasp.

Do that, and it will be at least another seven days before the Smalley family take an overnighter back to home soil.

Share this Article

twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
2022 Driver Test | Which one is going in my bag?
play button
The most powerful PING irons ever? | PING i525 review
play button
I'll be using the Vokey SM9 wedges... and you should too
play button
The driver that has it all? | COBRA LTDx drivers REVIEWED!
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

LIV Golf star shoots down rumours of rift with best friend
HOW MUCH?! Paige Spiranac's eye-watering social media earnings revealed
REVEALED: What stars need to do in return for LIV Golf cash
Explained: How the FedEx Cup works
Judge sets trial date for LIV Golf’s PGA Tour antitrust lawsuit

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods: Inside his $41million Florida mansion
The very best pubs in St Andrews
The Scottish Golf Course Emoji Quiz!
24 lies every bad golfer tells
Doug Sanders: The extraordinary life of golf's original playboy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
Keep working on the right things
play button
A simple takeaway drill from Peter Barber
play button
Swing through the ball to hit a fade
play button
Make your backswing steeper
See all videos right arrow