NI Open Previews – Dermot McElroy and Gareth Shaw ready for Galgorm Challenge

Dermot McElroy

Dermot McElroy

Dermot McElroy is hoping the familiar surroundings of Galgorm Castle can help him make a smooth transition from the amateur to professional ranks this week at the Tayto NI Open.
The 23-year-old from Ballymena is a regular at the Co Antrim venue and actually tied for ninth back in 2013 as a amateur, seven shots behind the winner, Daan Huizing.
“I can’t really pick a better spot for me. I know the course so well,” said Dermot a full Irish international who won the West of Ireland Championship last year.

“It’s really just about finding a bit of form and playing well. I’ve played a couple of practice rounds and I’ve a bit of work to do. Hopefully, I can find some over the next couple of days.

“Driving is going to be key this week. The rough is seriously thick, they’ve somehow managed to get it growing against you and it’s really heavy and wet. You’ll be struggling to reach the green if you get in it.”
Dermot had previously indicated that he was intending to turn professional at the end of the amateur season but when he was offered a chance to play in Galgorm, he thought the time was right to take the plunge.
He added, “I only really had two amateur events left so I said to myself, ‘why not go now?’
“I had the opportunity to play this week and hopefully I’ve a good chance of playing in the Challenge Tour event in Mount Wolseley at the end of September so I just thought there was no point in waiting any longer.”

Gareth Shaw

Gareth Shaw

It’s the nature of modern professional golf that Gareth Shaw is approaching veteran status at the ripe old age of 30!
“I feel that way sometimes. I played with two guys recently and they were 18 and 21 years old,” said the Lurgan golfer who joined the pro ranks in 2008 and has spent most of his career plying his trade on the Challenge Tour.
“When I first turned professional, I thought, ‘if I’m not doing any good by the time I’m 30 I’ll pack it in’ but here I am looking forward to another tournament at Galgorm Castle.
“There are a few guys around my age that have been doing pretty well this year.

“Golf has that longevity. You can make a lot of money in your 40s so you just have to keep going.”

The 2016 season has offered little encouragement in terms of results but Gareth has seen enough signs recently to give him grounds for optimism. It means that he’s looking forward to having another crack at winning the NI Open.
“The start of the year was tough. Everything was six out of 10. I wasn’t playing badly, I was just not playing well,” he added.
“Recently my driving has come on a lot and my putting is has been fantastic over the last couple of weeks. If I can somehow get it all to click, who knows?
“I am excited to play this week. It’s so nice to stay at home, to see familiar faces, get some home support and have a caddy on the bag. It’s small things like that which can make a big difference.”
Gareth finished tied for 42nd last year at Galgorm, a full 13 shot behind the winner, Frenchman Clément Sordet who is returning to defend his title this year.



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