'I thought of giving up – when you have a family it makes you question things'
The 2018 European Tour season has been full of feel-good stories. Chris Paisley, with his wife Keri on the bag, kicked things off down in South Africa. We’ve had two lots of Eddie Pepperell successes. The nicest man on the planet, Francesco Molinari, did the BMW PGA Championship-Open double before going 5-0 at the Ryder Cup. And there was Paul Waring in Sweden.
Peers don’t have to send on their best wishes via Twitter – they’re not Gary Player – but they seem to be only too happy to for the good guys.
Richard McEvoy’s timeline was already filling up from the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Ross Fisher and David Howell after his Challenge Tour win in France – the same week as Molinari’s victory at Carnoustie – before he hit the jackpot on the main tour in Germany just seven days later, holding off in-form Bryson DeChambeau in the process.
After a wait of 17 years and 285 starts the 39-year-old, having decided to lay up, rolled in a perfect-paced 20-footer at the 72nd hole to move inside the world’s top 100 for the first time. The plan had been to play the rest of the year on the Challenge Tour, now he had €333,330 in the bank and a two-year exemption.
Pepperell hit the right note in his congratulatory message: “Played the final round Q School in 2016 with Richard McEvoy. His Mrs is a schoolteacher I believe and they’ve got kids. I’ve got nothing but respect for people like Richie and his wife. Really gutsy performance, I’ll have a wine for them tonight.”
This part of the season has always been a battle for McEvoy, his previous highest finish on the money list has been 101st in 2010. Now he’s pushing for a place in the top 60 and Dubai, how things can turn around
How different are your plans now from the middle of July?
I’ve never had this type of opportunity. Before the Challenge Tour win I thought I’d play the European Open anyway with my Challenge Tour ranking and then play the rest of the year there.
It’s lovely to play for the bigger prize funds but the bigger picture was 2019 and giving myself the best opportunity to have the best ranking rather than look at prize money. So Germany was going to be my last European Tour event unless I had a really good week which I then did. It’s been pretty life-changing.
Before the two wins you beat a star-studded line-up in the Queenwood Cup. The field included the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, and about a dozen other major or tour winners…
I shot 64 to win by three. That was the kickstart of everything, it was just before France and gave me some massive belief being able to compete with the likes of those players. I got an invite from David Howell – even as a tour pro you have to play with a member there – and it was such a beautiful day.
How much did the previous week help with all that?
Someone asked which win was more important and I said probably the one on the Challenge Tour. Winning the previous week was more important to me mentally than in Germany, purely because it gave me the confidence to finish off the next one and it was massive for my self belief.
On the Sunday in France players were coming at me but I kept hitting shots and holing key putts and that helped so much the week after.
You played on the famous 2001 Walker Cup team which was the first time GB&I retained the trophy. You are the same age as Graeme McDowell, how would your games have compared back then?
Our games were fairly similar. We were solid, hit lot of fairways, strong iron players and had decent short games but he had more belief in what he was doing at the time and spent years at college winning and had more confidence in his ability. Some of the boys were very confident, others wished that we would make it and I was in the latter category.
Luke Donald becoming World No. 1 was such a big achievement as was Graeme winning the US Open. I don’t think anybody has over-exceeded or under-achieved, at one stage everyone who turned pro had a card which was pretty incredible when you look at the stats. You hope and expect that you will win on tour and be successful but golf doesn’t work like that.
Did you get close to giving up at any point when things weren’t going so well?
There were a couple of times when I had the discussion with my wife and close friends. Golf is such a fickle game where you have brilliant weeks and great years and then you come out the next year with high expectations and get put down straightaway. The standard is so high and, if you’re not on your game, it is very hard to compete. I thought of giving up and looking at other options. When you have a family it makes you question a few things.
I’ve got two boys, 8 and 5, the oldest is now playing and the youngest has begun hitting a few balls. They both loved seeing their daddy on the TV and picking up the trophy for them was beautiful. To hole a putt like I did in Germany was one dream, the other would be to win one and have them there so that they can run on the green.
Click here for part one of the Richard McEvoy interview, in which he discusses taking on Bryson DeChambeau down the stretch in Germany…