CALLUM TARREN’S journey to one of the biggest stages in golf has been fraught with hurdles to overcome, so he should not have expected this week to be any different.

For a young man who has had to cope with flights being cancelled by the Chinese military, sleepless nights on airport floors, teeing up at the bottom of a volcano and having to run down a hillside close to the North Korean border before a huge storm hit, no wonder he feels like he can take on anything.

That probably explains how he has gone from talented amateur, to rising professional and now, after this week, a competitor in a major tournament. Tarren has embarked on his first US Open journey and his preparations since qualifying have been just as eventful as the rest of his career.

The 28-year-old, from Darlington, County Durham, will be playing alongside the game’s elite, just a few groups behind Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth in today’s first round, at Pebble Beach courtesy of winning a sectional qualifier in Florida last week.

After picking up a speeding ticket as he raced through the night after qualifying to play in a Tour event in South Carolina, his subsequent journey to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula hasn’t gone quite to plan either.

“We flew from Atlanta to San Francisco, where we had a connecting flight to Monterey where Pebble Beach is,” explained Tarren. “We got to San Francisco, boarded the plane which was only due to be a 20-minute flight. We were sat there and they were about to shut the door and someone’s iPhone charger got lodged in the door.

“It bent something, so we had to get off the plane so they could pressurise the cabin to see if there were any leaks. The flight got cancelled, we then had to get a taxi at midnight, $450 for a 100-minute taxi ride – and that wasn’t all of it.

“They told me my clubs would be on the flight the next morning. Me and my caddie went to the airport and we could tell from the United Airlines app that my bag had been rerouted. My bag had gone to New Orleans on to Denver, then got back to San Francisco and down to me so finally arrived on the Monday evening at 8.26.

“I had to play my first nine holes at Pebble Beach from a made up set of wedges and irons from Titleist, and a spare driver with a demo bag! It was all good in the end. Another part of the story. Hopefully we will have a good week now and it’s part of the story to be told.”

There are so many stories for Tarren to tell he could write a book, regardless of how he fares in Carmel-on-Sea over the next four days.

America is not new to him having spent four years studying at Radford University in Virginia, where he really started to concentrate on his golf.

“I started playing at Dinsdale Spa,” said Tarren, who was a talented centre-forward before he really focused on fairways rather than penalty areas.

“It was through one of my best school friends because his mam worked at the bar, so she took us to junior coaching with Martyn Stubbings. I stuck with it after that from the age of 11.”

Stubbings, now director of golf at Rockliffe Hall where he is attached, and former Middlesbrough defender Stuart Parnaby, who helps him with his fitness programme, have flown to California to support Tarren.

Tarren does not want his US Open outing to be his only major appearance, believing he has what it takes to hit the PGA Tour full-time and make repeat outings in the sport’s biggest showpiece events.

Whatever happens he will never forget the journey he has experienced to get there, having attempted to break into the pro game after returning to Darlington after university when he took on odd jobs to try to achieve his goals.

Tarren, who studied at Darlington’s Eastbourne Comprehensive and Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form, said: “Turning pro after four years in America was hard because I had been to college and I was on a full ride, everything was paid for. I used to come home in the summer and work at Rockliffe.

“Times were tough. Then I went to China to play on the China Tour and things picked up from there. I have done it myself, I have had bits of help along the way but nothing to give me the golden egg that some people have.

“I have done it myself and I have appreciated my game more because of the path I have had to take. When I get success I try not to get too high and I try not to get too low with the lows.”

Spending a couple of years in China thousands of miles away from home would make plenty squirm. His decision to become the first of two North-East golfers – including Teesside’s Michael Skelton – to head for the PGA China Tour resulted in him topping the order of merit, guaranteeing his spot on the feeder to the PGA Tour, the

Tarren said: “China was full of special memories, we had some problems travelling, cancelled flights, nightmares, that’s what comes with the job. The biggest thing that stands out was that we went to the Great Wall in Beijing, that was an incredible attraction. We got a cable car up, a bobsleigh down on a metal track. It was fun.

“We were pretty lucky. The Tour put on hotels every week, so we usually stayed in a westernised hotel: Sheratons, Crowne Plazas, Hyatts. We had pretty good conditions to live in. There were a couple of tough ones over the years, though, with bugs, but I can’t complain.”

Then there was the afternoon when he had the sight of Heaven Lake at the top of a huge mountain to enjoy, only for him to be forced to run when the huge storm came in just a short distance from North Korea. He has had the experiences of a few appearances in the PGA Tour Latinoamerica too, where he got to play beneath a volcano.

Now for Pebble Beach. He said: “Pebble is looking absolutely fantastic. It’s in incredible shape, it’s breathtaking at every hole. Playing it once, I said straight away it’s the best course I have ever played. I am buzzing to be here.

“I am just behind Woods and Spieth on Thursday. I honestly don’t care where I am though in regards to the tee sheet, as long as I have got a start in the US Open I am happy.

“I am not here just for the experience, I am here to compete and I feel it is a course that suits strong iron play, which is my strength as long as you get it in play off the tee.

“The greens are so small, if you miss the green you are in thick, dense rough. It is important to hit the fairways, you will make some big numbers if you don’t hit the greens. I don’t want to be making those, and I just want this story to continue.”