Wednesday 18 September 2019

Carey pulls back to scale the heights

Castleknock man's focus on accuracy pays off

Peaking at the right time: David Carey wins the Cervino Open. Photo: Tristan Jones
Peaking at the right time: David Carey wins the Cervino Open. Photo: Tristan Jones

Brian Keogh

Golfers mature at different rates as we have seen with Rory McIlroy's teenage feats and Miguel Angel Jimenez's heroics after 40.

So what now for Castleknock's David Carey, who shot the lowest round ever recorded for a professional on tour when he opened with an 11-under 57 in the Alps Tour's Cervino Open and went on to win his maiden title in a playoff last weekend?

The 23-year old was once obsessed with distance, playing with such an exaggerated overswing, it was John Daly-esque in its athleticism and as unpredictable as the Wild Thing himself.

A ball speed approaching 190 mph allowed him to hit the ball prodigious distances, though rarely in the required direction.

As a result, he found life on tour to be a hit and miss affair when he left school before his Leaving Cert and turned professional at just 18.

Having won the Boys Home Internationals with the likes of Paul McBride, Robin Dawson, Walker Cup players Paul McBride and James Sugrue and current internationals Ronan Mullarney and Sean Flanagan, he's followed his own path and slowly made himself a tour winner.

Next month, he will have a chance to graduate from the Alps Tour to the Challenge Tour, which awards five cards to its leading players each season.

He will also have a chance to battle for his European Tour card at the Qualifying School and given his progress, it's clear that he is quickly becoming an accomplished player.

The improvements he has made over the last year have certainly impressed coach Shane O'Grady, who worked with Carey when he was on the Leinster Boys panel and started working with him again about four months ago.

"He is so grown up, it is unbelievable," said the Black Bush professional, who has played a major role in the careers of Gavin Moynihan and Leona Maguire.

"The big overswing is gone and he's so mature now. That win has been coming because he has been playing great all year.

"He has slowed all that long-driving down and for a player who struggled at times to keep the ball on two fairways, never mind one, he is now the straightest driver you can imagine, hitting this power fade that is incredibly good."

While Carey did not qualify for Team Ireland funding, it would be a major disappointment if he were not afforded an invitation to the Stone Irish Challenge at Headfort next month.

His decision to go his own way and leave the GUI set up was a brave one, but he felt it was the best way to learn the ropes and achieve his goal of playing on tour.

The Dubliner made 11 birdies at 5,303-metres (5,801 yards), par-68 Cervino Golf Club in the shadow of the Matterhorn close to the Swiss border, just over 2,000 metres above sea level.

While the lowest officially recorded round is a 16-under 55 by Australian Rhein Gibson in 2012 - three other 55s have been documented but discounted due to the length of the course or other factors - Carey's 57 is the lowest recorded on a professional tour.

More importantly, he went on to beat Italy's Edoardo Lipparelli with a birdie at the first playoff hole to validate what was an extraordinary round.

Ryo Ishikawa (Japan Golf Tour), Stephan Jager (Web.com Tour) and Jim Furyk (PGA Tour) have all shot 58 on the main tours while there have also been 58s in so-called lesser events - Shigeki Maruyama in qualifying for the 2000 U.S. Open, Jason Bohn at the Canadian Tour's Bayer Championship in 2001 and John Hahn on the Tour Course at PGA Catalunya Resort in the 2014 European Tour Qualifying School Finals.

"I did a 57, I won the playoff, things couldn't be a whole lot better," said Carey.

After scaling the heights in the Alps, the sky's the limit now.

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