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McLean, 24, was lined up to caddie for world No 265 Kosuke Hamamoto, of Thailand, at the New Zealand Open at The Hills and Millbrook courses in Queenstown on Thursday.
The job would have earned him $150 a day and a percentage of the prize money if Hamamoto made the cut.
However, on Monday McLean had to say no to the job after shooting a four-under 68 at a last-chance qualifying tournament at Cromwell.
The top three finishers in the field of 53 won entry to the open. McLean finished third - just one shot ahead of six other players at three-under-par - to claim the very last spot at the open.
“I might have made 1500 bucks out of him, so yeah, basically I’ve cost myself some money. But this is an experience and you can’t put money on that,” McLean said.
“It would have been nice to caddie, but playing is where I want to be.
"I’d feel a bit sad just walking around carrying someone’s bags. I’d rather have someone carrying my bag.”
All going well, McLean won’t be far away from making his own living off playing golf. He plans to go pro at the end of the year.
He is currently a member of the New Zealand Golf national academy. This has seen him represent New Zealand as an amateur in Asia, Mexico, Chile and the United States.
“It’s a good eye-opener for how sharp you need to be and how good your game needs to be,” he said.
It won't be McLean’s first time competing at the NZ Open. In 2017, he booked a spot by winning the qualifying event in Cromwell. He finished even par for the week, but was unable to make the cut.
This time, McLean will have some extra incentive to make the weekend - his parents and girlfriend aren’t planning to go to be in Queenstown until then.