“My first goal is to make the weekend,” Enoch said. “However, I don’t want that to be the focus because you gravitate toward where your thoughts are. The way the course sets up, I feel like I can have a really good week with some strong long iron play, which is a strength of mine. So I am focusing on controlling what I can control and having a strong showing.”
It will be Enoch’s second major. He played the Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014 and missed the cut by three strokes.
“That was probably the best week of my life so I can’t wait to get back and try it again,” the 30-year-old Welshman said.
This time he has two advantages he didn’t have four years ago. He brings with him the confidence of having won a tournament as a professional, the Sunshine Tour’s Cape Town Open in South Africa earlier this year. And he says his short game — he has always been a notoriously big hitter — has improved.
“I have much more control of the ball now, especially with my wedges, which I lacked in college,” he said. “And yes, I can still get it out there off the tee.”
That distance always comes in handy when courses are playing 7,402 yards like Carnoustie will be, but Enoch says the historically difficult track is playing so firm and fast this week he’ll be hitting a lot of irons off the tee.
“The course is fantastic,” he said “It’s extremely dry so the rough is patchy but quite sparse. The fairways are very fast. I know you can plot your way around when it’s firm and the course is right in front you so it plays fair. Lots of 2-irons this week.”
Enoch punched his ticket to the Open during a qualifier at Notts Hollinwell Golf Club in Nottingham, England, earlier this month. He finished two under par and had to wait to see if that was good enough.
“I was absolutely buzzing with relief, excitement and anticipation,” he said. “I knew that in all probability two-under would make it, but it was a waiting game for 45 minutes before I knew it was confirmed. It was nail-biting time for sure.”
Enoch is ranked 435th in the world and has spent the past four years on the Sunshine and European Challenge tours. The tee times came out on Monday and he’ll be playing the first two rounds with Kodai Ichihara of Japan and and Marcus Armitage of England. They tee off at 6:04 a.m. (EDT) on Thursday.
Martyn Thompson, a pro from England, is caddying for Enoch. Thompson made the cut at Carnoustie in 1999.
“A good omen,” Enoch said.
Enoch says playing in college prepared him for professional golf. In fact, he said most college golfers don’t realize how good they have it until they leave.
“The amazing thing with D1 college golf is the amount of tournaments you have, the quality of the fields and the quality of the courses,” he said. “It’s like a mini PGA Tour. The main thing it preps you for is the travel, which is an understated part of tour life. It’s definitely not for everyone.
“I really look forward to visiting Johnson City in the near future. I have heard great things about the progression of the university and I would love to see it for myself.”
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Television coverage on Golf Channel for Thursday’s first round begins at 1:30 a.m (EDT) and goes until 4 p.m.