David Hearn is a little light on major championship experience, having played just three previous times in the big four tournaments.
And he's also quite green when it comes to links golf, as in he's never been on a next-to-the-sea course.
Heck, he'd never even been to Europe before the charter plane from the John Deere touched down on Monday morning. Even that was a bit of a last-minute decision as Hearn was on the alternate list, moving up spot by spot until he reached the first position before he decided to make the trip.
So it's safe to say that the golfer from Brantford, Ont., has immersed himself in all things links in his short time here; call it a major cram session.
"It's been a lot of fun for me," said Hearn, who got into the field late Tuesday after former champion Mark Calcavecchia pulled out. "It's different than anything I've seen. Coming over here I definitely have a lot to learn quickly, but I'm trying not to do too much, too fast. I'm just trying to take it a little bit at a time."
As first alternate, Hearn was treated with complete access to the course and all other amenities afforded to the players in the field. He walked the course on Monday and then played a practice round Tuesday and 14 holes Wednesday.
He was impressed with Royal Liverpool and the demands it placed on shotmaking.
"I've just enjoyed this style of golf," he said while being pelted with a light rain that fell Wednesday. "There's not a single tree on this property and it's been a lot of fun just trying to hit some creative shots."
The biggest challenge for Hearn this week is obviously adapting to the golf course. It's truly unlike anything he's played before in a tournament and while he's having fun, he's also getting to experience something very new.
"Our firmest courses that we play in North America aren't even close to the way this course plays so here," he stated. "It's a matter of trying to figure out how long the ball is going to release. We're used to flying it and stopping it a lot. So this week I've been spending a lot of time figuring out, how far is a wedge going to release, how long is a 5-irong going to release."
Hearn comes into the Open playing some of the best golf of his career. He's had three top-10 finishes including a tie for sixth at the Players, and collected more than $1 million.
He took some time off recently before returning to the Tour for the Greenbrier and the John Deere Classic, an event he nearly won a year ago. He's now refreshed and ready to go in the Tour's closing stretch, which will be an arduous campaign.
"I feel good," Hearn admitted. "I had a really good break. I took three weeks off before coming back to Greenbrier. I haven't played great since I came back – I played pretty average but I felt my game was really close at the Greenbrier and again last I week I felt it was really close. Obviously the scoring here is going to be a little bit different than the last couple of weeks but I'm looking forward to it. I think my game is ready for it."
And if he seems just a tad bit enthusiastic, forgive the guy. After all, this is like a dream come true.
"I've been a pro for 13 years and this is my first opportunity I've had to play in the Open Championship so I was very excited to get over here and I'm thrilled to be in the tournament. It's a big highlight for me."
Hearn will also get dipped right into the fire on Thursday – he's teeing off alongside Sir Nick Faldo and Todd Hamilton, both past Open champions just after 10 am local time.