PGA EUROPRO TOUR star John Wade had the honour of following the legendary Jack Nicklaus around St Andrews on Monday in his practice round ahead of The Open.
Wade was one of the 12 players to come through the international final qualifiers at the weekend to win a place in the field for the major.
The 2005 Open will be the last featuring Jack Nicklaus – and Australian star Wade admits he is honoured to be playing in the same tournament.
“I saw Jack Nicklaus a couple of times in my practice, he was playing just ahead of me with Fred Couples,” he said.
“He certainly looked to know his way around the course and he was showing his partners how to play a few shots!
“To be involved in his final major is an added bonus for me and a special feeling – it won’t be the same without him.”
Wade has been the outstanding player on the PGA EuroPro Tour so far this year, and is looking forward to stepping up to the highest level.
“It’s the first Open I’ve qualified for – I’ve missed out in a couple of play-offs in the past,” added the 37-year-old.
“It’s nice to get in and it’s even more special with it being at St Andrews – it’s a dream growing up in Australia to play in the Open at St Andrews.
“I’d like to do well and hopefully I won’t be overwhelmed by it all.
“I had a practice round with Richard Green on Monday. He’s a close friend and he steered me around the course as I’ve not played it before.
“It was a perfect day and I got a feel of how the course will play and the layout. Of course, things could change before Thursday but it was good to get it out of the way.
“I’ll try to pace myself now and relax a little – I’m pretty worn out after playing in the qualifiers at the weekend and then getting things like accommodation sorted out.”
Wade finished second in the Ladybank qualifier, following up an opening round 67 with a 68 on Sunday to secure a place at St Andrews.
“I had no idea what anyone else was doing on Sunday, so I just had to make sure I concentrated on my own game,” he said.
“In the end I qualified quite comfortably but you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It’s very hard – with only three spots to play for there’s a lot of pressure and you can self-destruct on one hole so it’s about keeping the errors to a minimum.”
After winning two PGA EuroPro Tour events in 2005, does Wade think he can collect the famous Claret Jug to add to his growing collection?
“My target is probably just to make the cut,” he admits. “I’ve got to be realistic.
“I’ve played very well on the PGA EuroPro Tour this year and that has given me confidence going into The Open but this will be a different environment altogether.
“I’ve got to treat it with the respect it deserves and play my own game. If I play well beyond that it’s a bonus.
“But it’s a good achievement to qualify and if I play as well as I can then I could still be there at the weekend.”