Having come through final qualifying to get himself back on one of the game’s biggest stages at the first attempt since switching to the paid ranks, the 20-year-old is here with a different mindset this time around.
“Well, I’m competing against those guys now,” he replied to being asked if that experience last year had stopped him from feeling starstruck this week by the likes of Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka. “It’s cool to be playing in the same event as all of those players – but now I’m trying to beat them. It’s still cool but I’m here to do a job.”
On this occasion, the Stonehaven man has his mentor, Paul Lawrie, alongside him in the field. “It’s been good so far,” added Locke. “I played 18 holes yesterday and nine today, then got caught in the rain. The course is very good.
“I haven’t actually played with Paul yet, we just did the Open Zone things his morning in the spectator village. That was quite good fun. We had a chat about his victory at Carnoustie, a bit of a chat with me, then he had to try to replicate his great winning shot from 99 – there was a target yardage he had to hit.
“I wouldn’t say it feels a whole lot different being here as a professional. But I know what to expect from the whole Open experience, having been here last year as an amateur. You know what you’re getting into. I think that has to help.”
Has Lawrie offered him any particular advice about playing as a pro instead of an amateur? “He just said focus on myself, keep it simple, treat it as any other tournament. I have to do that,” he said. “The first aim is to make the cut and be here for the weekend. After that, try to finish as high up as possible.”
His dad, Andrew, is on the bag again and, though not on the same scale as Carnoustie, Locke is set to be cheered on in a group alongside Alex Noren, pictured, and Mike Lorenzo-Vera. “I have seen a few familiar faces in the crowd and the family are all over. I’ve also seen some of the local people out following me, which is really nice. I hope to get some good support.”