Matthew McClean: Belfast golfer cherishing likely Masters invite

McClean beat compatriot and close friend Hugh Foley to win the US Mid-Amateur Championship at Erin Hills on Saturday

Matthew McClean says he is determined to the make the most of his appearance at next year’s Masters.

The Belfast golfer is set to receive an invitation to play in the iconic major at Augusta National following his US Mid-Amateur Championship triumph.

“It’s something you never think you’re going to play,” he reflected.

“It’s going to be likely a once in the lifetime experience so it’s just about going out and enjoying it.”

Malone’s McClean held off a late comeback from Dubliner and close friend Hugh Foley to win 3&1 in the 36-hole decider at Erin Hills in Wisconsin on Saturday.

In doing so, McClean became the first Irishman to win the US Mid-Amateur title, and he can now look forward to featuring in some of the sport’s most prestigious events including the first major of the year at Augusta.

“Even just a chance to play the golf course is one in a million,” he reflected.

“I don’t even have any expectations for what it’s going to be like because I can’t even really think about what it’s going to be like.

“I think I’ll just try to enjoy the week. Get out there early, have a bit of fun but also you want to play well, it’s not just a holiday.

“I’m just going to go in with it and see what happens with no great expectation with what’s going to happen with the week, hopefully I can play a bit of good golf along the way.”

‘Tough’ decision to make over professional switch

Despite the excitement of two majors to look forward to, McClean’s goals remain rooted within the amateur game, where he hopes to claim a spot on the Great Britain and Ireland team for next year’s Walker Cup.

An optometrist by trade, the Belfast man will turn his attentions to his profession over the winter before returning to the golfing circuit in 2023.

With an exciting year scheduled McClean is content to remain in the amateur ranks, and has hinted that he may choose to continue along that path as opposed to joining the professional game.

“At the moment I’m definitely sticking amateur for the next year. Whether or not I turn pro after the Walker Cup I’m not 100% sure, it’s a tough decision to make the leap.

“If you get to a certain level in amateur golf it’s very enjoyable.

“You get to travel the world and see all these great golf courses and meet lots of people. At the moment I’m leaning on the side at the moment that I’ll stay amateur, I’d have thought.”

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