Steven Tiley arrived on the radar of world golf when he shot a 66 in the first round of The 139th Open Championship at St Andrews, and the Englishman will continue his Major love affair at Muirfield next week hoping for more success.
The 30 year old has become something of an Open qualifying specialist, succeeding three of the last four times he has attempted to play in golf’s oldest Major, the latest of which came when he won Local Final Qualifying by three shots at Musselburgh earlier this month.
Tiley is in fine form heading into the season’s third Major, carding rounds of 68 and 65 on the first two days of the Swiss Challenge to lie two shots off the lead at the halfway stage.
“Everything’s good at the moment and I’m playing nicely,” said the Herne Bay resident. “It was nice to qualify again. I only missed by one shot in the only qualifier I haven’t made. That was annoying as it was for Royal St Georges in 2011, which is near where I live in Kent. That was the one I really wanted to play.
“I know I can do it, so I think that gives me extra confidence. It’s just a question of trying to play half-decent, and if you do you’ll be in with a sniff. It’s almost like a lottery. And if you don’t play well it’s not the end of the world. If you qualify it’s a bonus; there’s nothing resting on it.
“It’s a brilliant tournament so I’m really looking forward to getting up there. I’ve never played Muirfield, so I’ll be heading up on Monday morning with the family, and I’ve rented a house about a hundred yards from the course.
“I missed the cut by one in 2004 when I was an amateur, finished 68th in 2010 and missed the cut last year by one. I’ve played alright, but there’s not been anything outrageous. No Chris Woods yet.”
While it is surely a bonus for any player from golf’s second tier to compete in a Major Championship, Tiley realises a week away from Challenge Tour duties is not ideal for his ultimate goal.
“The target is obviously to get to The European Tour through the Challenge Tour Rankings,” he said. “So next week is not going to help that cause – not unless I finish in the top five and earn enough money through The Race to Dubai.
“It would be nice to have a good week here in Switzerland – not particularly for confidence or anything like that as it’s a completely different type of golf up there, but because next week I’ll be missing the Challenge Tour.
“Obviously it’s always good to get to play in The Open, but it’s not part of my schedule.”
Asked who would comprise his dream three-ball for the first two rounds, Tiley replied: “Tiger and Rory. Or any of the top guys really. That would be great.”