Pinckney, who is playing in this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge on the European Challenge Tour, last played a Major at the 2011 US Open Championship in Congressional as an amateur and the omens are certainly good for McIlroy as the Northern Ireland man romped to victory that week.Pinckney and McIlroy were close friends as kids after meeting at a junior tournament at Doral in Miami aged nine, which McIlroy duly won, Pinckney finishing second.
After that, the two kept in touch regularly and McIlroy even spent a summer with Pinckney’s family in Utah. They will meet once again next week, after Pinckney pre-qualified for the year's third Major, and he is relishing the opportunity following a mixed season on the European circuit, switching between The European Tour and Challenge Tour.“I cannot wait,” said the 23 year old, whose best finish this year was 19th place in the Sicilian Open. “I just want this week to be over. I still have to focus on my golf but I just cannot wait.
“It has been difficult to concentrate on this week. I just want to be there so badly so it is hard but it’s got to be done.“All I've heard about the course at Lytham is that I'm in for a treat and to stay out of the bunkers. This is my first Major as a professional so it’s a little different.
“It’s nice going there already having a Major under my belt. I'm a bit more comfortable with it and ready to play instead of just going for the experience so I'm really looking forward to it.”
While Pinckney is yet to register a top 20 in four regular Challenge Tour appearances (also playing the two dual-sanctioned events), he has been enjoying the steep learning curve that is the travelling lifestyle of the professional golfer and feels like is game is about to come good.“It’s been progressing this year,” he said. “I was struggling a little bit with my swing. It was a combination of the weather and the travelling but it’s a learning experience. It’s something I have to do and there’s been progress.
“I played seven straight tournaments and then The Open Qualifier and before that, the most tournaments I had played in a row was two. It was a learning experience this year because when I was in college I would play week on, week off and see my coach, and then a week on again.“It’s something I've been getting used to but it’s a great learning experience. I love going to the various countries, it’s a lot of fun even if I miss home a little bit. But qualifying for The Open makes me want to stay over here. It makes it all worthwhile.”