Former amateur standout Paul McBride will make his European Challenge Tour debut when he tees it up Thursday at the Hauts de France Golf Open at Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club in Lumbres, France.
The Irishman, who only turned professional prior to the United States Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath eight days ago, enters one of the longest-running Challenge Tour events ready to embrace the new experience.
“I’m just looking forward to playing,” the 22 year old said. “It’s going to be probably a different feel. It’s already different to even a big amateur event with the way it’s been set up here, it feels like a really strong professional event, so I’m looking forward to that aspect.”
“I had a good week of practice at home and met with my coach Neil Manchip to sort a few things out, so I feel like I’m swinging it well coming into the week, which is definitely nice,” said McBride.
Like any new professional, McBride will have to adapt to the unique pressures of playing for both money and career advancement — all while handling an intensive travel schedule that removes him from his family and friends for significant periods of time.
To help navigate these difficult waters, the amateur star, who represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2017 Walker Cup, has signed with Hambric Sports—an athlete management firm whose client list includes the last two U.S. Open Champions in World Number One Dustin Johnson and four-time Challenge Tour winner Brooks Koepka, as well as last week’s victor Pedro Figueiredo, among others.
“They’ve been helping me out plenty. Even with little things like just being there to tell me what to do in various situations or what to expect when I come to these events, they have just been really helpful,” the Irishman said.
McBride does have some top-level experience that he will look to draw from as he enters the Hauts de France Golf Open. Last year, he competed as an amateur on the European Tour in the Porsche European Open— carding steady rounds of 70-72-72-72 to make the cut and finish in a tie for 47th place.
However, with only one qualifier under his professional belt, and no cashed cheques yet, the Wake Forest University graduate is clear where is focus must remain as he approaches both this week, and his promising career.
He said: “You play golf. You can’t try to approach things any differently. You just play to play the way you know how to, and at the end of the week you see if there is a cheque there or not. You can’t get worked up by money, you have to just play your game and do the things that have helped you get to this point.”
The 18th edition of the Hauts de France Golf Open will begin on Thursday as a full field of 156 competitors aim to join to the growing list of champions.