Alex Wrigley prepares for ‘a dream come true’ with his wife at St Andrews
Open qualifier Alex Wrigley admits his game has always been in the shadow of his wife, Ladies European Tour player Johanna Gustavsson, but now he will get his chance to shine at St Andrews.
After coming through a play-off at nearby Fairmont St Andrews to book his place at the 150th Championship the 32-year-old will have Gustavsson caddying for him next week.
The Swede, who will play in the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield next month, has cancelled plans to play in an LET event in Holland to be on the bag for her husband’s debut in the event.
“She has carried before and is obviously a good player in her own right,” Wrigley, who married Gustavsson in May, told the PA news agency.
“It’s not that competitive at the moment as she is head and shoulders above me with her rankings and achievements but I’m definitely keen to catch up and I hope this week will count as me catching up.
“I just wanted someone to share the experience with and I couldn’t think of anyone better of sharing it with than my wife.
“I think she will bring some experience, she will be playing in her third Open this year and has played in other majors as well with large crowds, so she will definitely be passing on some wisdom.
“We are going to try to figure out this course, take in some input from local caddies, and speak to as many people as possible.”
Wrigley’s relationship with the Open, or qualifying at least, has not always been this happy.
In 2011 at regional qualifying at Goswick in Northumberland he finished his round one shot inside the mark only to discover he had 15 clubs in his bag.
“I’d been doing some messing around at the golf club with an old wedge and just slotted it into the bag and it was kind of hiding under another club,” he added.
“I was given a four-shot penalty and at the time I was in by one shot but I felt a little bit better at the end of the day because I would have eventually missed out – but I now always count my clubs on the first tee.”
Wrigley, whose biggest two professional wins on the minor tours in England and Scandinavia have netted him a maximum of about GBP 6,000 apiece, will receive more than GBP 4,000 just for finishing at St Andrews.
However, he ranks his two PGA Cup (the Great Britain and Ireland versus United States tournament for club professionals) appearances in America in 2015 and 2019 as the biggest test of his nerve so far.
“The feeling of not wanting to let down team-mates means the pressure seems even more, it’s different to playing individually. It feels more intense,” said the north-east golfer, who has only played the Old Course once previously with his wife a couple of years ago.
“But even if you qualified and got your tour card and maybe went in any other Opens or majors I can’t think anything would eclipse this.
“It is a tournament for the ages and potentially is going to be the biggest golf tournament in history so to be part of that and see some of the legends up close and personal will be absolutely a dream come true.”
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