GOLFER Jamie McLeary reckons his East Alliance Championship win was the strangest success of his career – at least in terms of what he was wearing.
To combat the bitterly cold weather at Gullane, the Lothians-based player put on a balaclava and though he might not necessarily have looked like a golfer, it did the trick.
“These events keep me ticking over as I have stayed at home this winter,” said the Team Scottish Hydro member.
“To get out for some competitive golf every Wednesday helps, although we’ve had some brutal conditions.
“For the first time on a golf course, I had a balaclava on – it was that cold.”
McLeary’s professional career looked set to take off when he beat Edoardo Molinari to win the Scottish Challenge at Spey Valley in 2009.
Two seasons ago, though, he began to be troubled by a wrist injury and while not causing nearly as much pain now, it is still a worry.
“When I won the Scottish Challenge, I guess I thought it would be a springboard for me, but, to be honest, I wasn’t playing that well at the time,” he said. “That week I did play pretty well, but the rest of the year I played pretty rubbish.
“It’s funny, I played a lot better in the years after that, but I only had a couple of top fives.
“And, If you’re not doing well in some of the bigger events on the Challenge Tour, it’s very difficult to get your card on the main Tour.
“I also had my wrist injury and the surgeon has told me I’ll need surgery at the end of this year.
“It’s not holding me back playing golf and that’s the good thing, but I need to get it done so it doesn’t go again.
“I’m getting a bone graft from my forearm to fit into my hand. I’ll probably miss a couple of months, but it will be at the end of the year.”
The Challenge Tour starts up in earnest at the end of next month and McLeary, now the longest-serving Team Scottish Hydro member, is eager to get going.
“This is a big year for me,” admitted the Marriott Dalmahoy-attached player. “It’s been a long winter and I can’t wait to get back out again.
“I missed the cut in Kenya earlier in the year, but I just didn’t feel ready at all. The greens are rock hard and they’re tiny and the ball goes miles. I was just totally at sea out there.”