MOORTOWN’S Nick McCarthy has been working hard on turning back the clock and returning to his former shot shape.
And the signs are promising that it could lead to a successful season for the PGA EuroPro Tour player.
McCarthy came third in the tour’s first event of the season, the Lookers Championship at Close House, in Northumberland, to bank a cheque for £3,000.
This performance came on the back of promising displays in the early part of the year in both Morocco and Portugal, which augurs well for him.
“It was good to be in the hunt again,” says McCarthy, who shot rounds of 69 69 68 to finish just two shots back of Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan.
“I had a fourth place last year, but that was as a result of a good last round.
“I didn’t feature on the leader board much then so it’s been a while since I’ve been in contention all the way round. It’s a good feeling.”
The old golfing doctrine of focusing on one shot at a time holds good for McCarthy most of the time, but he says that the circumstances of chasing the lead can change the strategy at some holes.
“You generally try to play it one shot at a time, but towards the end of the round it was a case of, ‘come on now, let’s try to find a couple more birdies to put pressure on the leaders’.”
Although he bogeyed the 15th hole in his final round – only his fifth dropped shot of the week – he recovered it at the 17th, but missed out by a shot on a share of second place.
“I did everything I could, really. I played exactly as I wanted to,” he says. “I put the ball where I wanted to, hit good putts. I was pretty happy with how I played.
“It was a big boost to play so consistently. There was never any drama through the whole three rounds, everything was just pretty simple.
“If I was going to drop a shot, I made sure it was only one; there weren’t any doubles, so that is pleasing.”
McCarthy played in Morocco on the MENA Tour, where he placed sixth in the qualifying event and had a ninth-place tournament finish.
In the Portugal Pro Tour he fared even better with three top-20 showings, including third in the Morgado Classic II and ninth in its predecessor, the Morgado Classic.
“I got in some good competitive play before the EuroPro season,” he says. “Now it will be a full season on the EuroPro and I’ll see where that puts me at the end of the year.
“I can’t really plan too much around October-November because it all depends on how you do in (European) Tour School and where you finish the year on the EuroPro.
“It’s £1,500 alone just the entry fee for the Tour Qualifying School and that’s before you’ve even thought about travel, hotel accommodation and food. It can be very expensive.”
McCarthy has been working since last year on returning to hitting the ball with a fade rather than a draw and is naturally pleased he made the effort.
“I’ve worked on changing a few things, since the middle of last year really,” he explains.
“It didn’t come too easily, but it had to be done.
“Luckily I could see a change in my game, which was for the good, so I’ve stuck with that all winter and made sure I nailed it and got comfortable with it.
“I had changed previously to get the ball going right to left a lot, when I was always a fader, right from when I was young.
“I’d changed to more of a draw, and I didn’t suit it, so I’ve gone back to hitting the ball more left to right again.
“That’s the way I’ve always seen it, always played left to right then I tried to go the other way, but for me I’d always rather see the ball coming from the left. It’s just a personal preference.”