Marcel Siem has a borrowed caddie, has played a gruelling 14 weeks in a row and has been toiling on the second tier Challenge Tour after a collapse from 51st in the world into the high 1000s.
But at the 149th Open Championship, the German couldn’t be happier. The last man to qualify for the championship by way of a win on the Challenge Tour last Sunday in France, after two 67s he’s now in a share of fourth place just three shots off the lead.
And he wasn’t even sure whether he should accept his last minute Open spot.
“After France I was third on the rankings (of the Challenge Tour) but I need to get my card back first and foremost,” he said. “I was still thinking ‘am I ready to go back on the big stage?’
“Then I was told that 10% of the Open prize money counts for the Challenge Tour rankings and it was a no-brainer. This is the best event in the world.”
‘The worst decision I’ve made in my life’
Seim had four wins on the main tour and was close to the world’s top 50 until he changed his style striving for something more.
“That was the worst decision I ever made in my life,” he said. “I should have stuck with what I had.
“In 2014 I changed coaches. I tried a bit of Dustin Johnson style over the wrist and that screwed everything up. I strained my shoulder and I’m still fighting with it.
“I was top 50 in the world and thought if you want to be better than top 50 you have to change something otherwise you freeze and you won’t get better.
“It’s been tough the last few years. Sponsors all gone, you have a certain lifestyle that you’re used to and that goes.
“You can’t play the big events any more, there’s no prize money coming in but the costs are still there. I wasn’t sure if I should keep going. I lost my swing, I was injured.”
‘I can’t whinge about wanting to be on the European Tour’
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 16, 2021
Acceptance that he is now a Challenge Tour player – although he’s determined to get back to the main circuit – is important, he says.
“I can’t whinge all the time about wanting to be on the European Tour,” he said. “I feel I belong (there). But like Richard Bland or Gregory Havret, there are a lot of guys who have gone back to the Challenge Tour.
“If you don’t accept that you lost your tour card and you still think you are a European Tour player, you should have a caddie and you should be playing for 2 million euro, you can’t compete on the Challenge Tour.
“You make friends and accept where you are, that’s the only way forward. I’m glad I understood that. That’s the reason I won in France. You have to show the Challenge Tour respect.”
‘Monday, Tuesday I felt horrendous’
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 16, 2021
The borrowed caddie is Guy Tilston, who normally loops for Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and as for 14 weeks in a row, he feels the Open crowds have lifted him.
“I’ve no idea how I’ve kept my energy up,” he admitted. “Monday, Tuesday, I felt horrendous. On Thursday I felt quite good with a late tee time but then I only had five hours of sleep last night.
“The first 10 holes I felt tired, my legs were wobbly. All of a sudden the crowd came, I got nervous and felt great. That will help over the weekend.
“The pressure will get me going. I hope I have a great week. It’s summer holidays now in Germany. It will be the best ever if I can take two weeks off after this and go away with my family.”