Jimmy Bullard: I doubted I’d reach the Prem – nobody can tell me I won’t reach The Open | Golf | Sport

Jimmy Bullard Golf

Jimmy Bullard is scheduled to play in Regional Qualifying for The Open on June 24 (Image: Instagram: @1jimmybullard)

Jimmy Bullard made his name as a Premier League footballer but there was a glint in his eye when the former Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Hull City man discovered that his interview with Express Sport would be all about golf.

Bullard is two weeks away from Regional Qualifying for The Open – one of golf’s four majors – at Rochester & Cobham Park. And this is no gimmick. The 45-year-old plays to a scratch handicap and regularly gives seasoned professionals a run for their money on GOLF LIFE, the YouTube channel started by former Soccer AM star ‘Tubes’ and his brother ‘Big Ange’, who brought Bullard on board 18 months ago.

“Soccer AM was coming to an end, the boys had been doing [the channel] for two or three years and they asked me to join,” he explained. “To be fair, it’s just snowballed out of control. It’s full-time! Them boys are full-time. We’re jet-setting. It’s only getting bigger and we just want to shoot good content, we love it. Grab a guest from anywhere, get the sticks out and we’ll have a slap and a talk.”

The kind of laugh-out-loud matches involving guests such as boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, former footballer David Bentley and golf tour pro Ewen Ferguson have taken a back seat in recent weeks as attention turns towards Bullard’s quest for The Open.

Any scratch handicapper, amateur or professional, can enter Regional Qualifying and play one round to fight for a spot in Final Qualifying. The whole process sees a field made up of approximately 2,000 hopefuls whittled down until at least 16 are granted entry to the tournament proper which, this year, is being held at Royal Troon in Scotland.

“I’ve been around some Open qualifiers,” Bullard said. “I’ve caddied for some players and I know that one or two under can get you in. I’ve got that in my locker. When I play and I’m on it, I’ve got that. I know I have. That’s all it’ll need. It’s just one round [in the regionals] so anyone can shoot lights out and get the flushes. You’ve seen me get the flushes! It’s possible. That would be our Open, to get to that second [qualifying stage] which is a proper tour event – that would be amazing.”

Bullard dove straight into competitive golf after hanging up his boots, playing a number of events on the EuroPro Tour and trying his hand at qualifying for The Open back in 2013, when he missed the mark in regionals by four shots.

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Ewen Ferguson (right) has featured alongside Jimmy Bullard on the GOLF LIFE YouTube channel (Image: Getty)

“I’m a better player now without a shadow of a doubt,” he continued. “I wasn’t taking it as seriously back then. It’s going to be tough but I didn’t think I’d reach the Prem, and I did. So who’s to tell me I can’t do it? Nobody.”

With close to 300k subscribers and videos which regularly notch hundreds of thousands of views, Bullard’s mission to go from professional footballer to The Open competitor has understandably caught the eye. And though many have thrown their weight behind the east Londoner, not everyone has been so supportive.

“I get some messages on my Instagram from people saying, ‘Who do you think you are?’. One: Chill out. Who are you to call anyone out? Do you even play the game? Two: You don’t know me. And three: Just enjoy the content. What’s the matter with you? Are you mad? Some people are so ruthless. I’d just love them to get in front of me and I’d just iron them out… not physically, just verbally. F***ing idiots.”

Bullard’s preparation for his high-stakes round later this month has involved consultations with short-game expert Dan Grieve, English golfer Zane Scotland and putting specialist Phil Kenyon. Things had been progressing well as Bullard shot +1 at Tandridge Golf Club on the Clutch Pro Tour last month, sealing him a T30 finish in a field of more than 100 competitors.

However, a back injury has halted his momentum, and Bullard hopes it will not prevent him from turning out at Regional Qualifying in two weeks’ time. If he makes it, mid-handicapper ‘Big Ange’ will take up the role of caddy, which is just another element separating the GOLF LIFE brigade from virtually every other hopeful harbouring dreams of making it to Royal Troon.

“I’m not a tour pro and Ange ain’t a tour pro caddy, but we just wanted to get together and see how far we can take it,” Bullard stated. “Why can’t we? Do you have to be a pro caddy? Pro caddies started somewhere and so did professional golfers. We just thought, ‘Sod it, we’re going to go in for it, we’re good enough to do it and let’s get going’.

“I think we’re a great team. We don’t know everything and we don’t think we know everything. We’re just there, a raw caddy and a raw player trying to do an amazing thing, and that’s qualify for The Open.”

Jimmy Bullard spoke to Express Sport in association with Greene King, who are offering a free drink for any supporter in any participating Greene King pub for the Euro 2024 opener between Germany and Scotland, providing they report the correct codeword at the bar between 6pm and 7pm ahead of the game.

“I’ve teamed up with Greene King to kick off the Euros and get behind England and Scotland,” Bullard explained. “The first game, which is opening the Euros, is Germany vs Scotland on June 14. We’re giving away, with Greene King, a free pint for every supporter that comes in to watch the game.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for fans to get behind the boys, both England and Scotland. But there’s a little codeword to get the free pint – ‘For Pub or Country’. So when you go up to the bar, you just say ‘For Pub or Country’ and you get a free pint.”

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