Amateur Golf Podcast: The first Irishman to win a USGA amateur event Matt McClean
06 Feb 2023
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Matthew McClean Rankings

Matt McClean (USGA)
Matt McClean (USGA)

Last September, Matt McClean became the fourth Irishmen to win a USGA championship when he defeated his good friend and countryman Hugh Foley in the final of U.S. Mid-Amateur at Erin Hills, joining Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, and Rory McIlroy. Quite an illustrious list.

The win has opened up a ton of new opportunities for the 29-year-old optometrist from Northern Ireland. The U.S. Mid-Am was McClean's first time competing in the United States, and now he's lined up amateur events like the Jones Cup and Azalea, this spring. Of course, he'll play in the Masters this April and U.S. Open in June.

On playing his good friend in the U.S Mid-Amateur Championship match

Matt McClean: I think we joked about at the start. We were over in Chicago with a friend of ours as well he hosted us for a few days. So we were playing golf together that week; we joked about it, saying 'What's a good outcome.' We weren't too sure what to expect either. We could have both missed the cut and gone home early. So we sort of jokingly said, you know, we'll both make the match play opposite sides of the draw, and then we can meet each other in the final. So that was the first time it was mentioned. So maybe you just need to put these things out there for them to become a reality.

On breaking through and winning after a lot of close calls

Matt McClean: Just the fact of winning a tournament would have been sort of a huge relief for me. Over the past year, specifically, but even going back over the last three years I have had four or five runner-up finishes. I was in a pretty good position to win them. And a lot of them it wasn't like coming back and running up the leaderboard last minute.

On playing practice rounds in the Masters and U.S. Open

Matt McClean: Obviously there's a sort of an Irish connection there, there are four Irish players playing at the Masters. So that would be pretty cool. And then the other thing as well, even with US Open, which I haven't looked into as much, Harrington's playing in the US Open this year because he won the Seniors last year, so I've actually I've never personally met Harrington, but I know plenty of guys who've had really good experiences with him over the years. And he's, from what I hear, very good with his time and with amateur golfers or young professionals. He's obviously very knowledgeable about the game, and I've heard he's very willing to pass that knowledge on to people. So to be able to catch a practice with Harrington and spend a bit of time with him is something I would love to do.

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