MOORTOWN GC’S Nick McCarthy cannot wait to go back to school next month.
Well, he is eager to get back to Frilford Heath, venue for last week’s Final Stage of Qualifying School for the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour
The Oxfordshire track will also stage the first event in the tour’s 2016 calendar, the PDC Golf Championship, from May 18-20.
Having headed the eight Yorkshire players who won category 3 cards by placing fourth, with three rounds of 70, the Moortown man sees it as an ideal chance to give his EuroPro Tour season some early momentum.
“There’s a few courses on the schedule that I’ll enjoy going back to, including Frilford,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it and the fact it’s only a month away, I feel like I’ve got some early prep done thanks to the Q School.”
After two successive seasons in which he earned almost £12,000 on the tour, last year came as a disappointment.
His cheque for £1,440 for placing fourth last week in Oxfordshire exceeded his total 2015 winnings.
But he has good cause to feel optimistic, not just because he earned his card with a top-four finish at Frilford Heath.
He has been playing on the 1836 Tour since the turn of the year and has produced a series of consistent performances, coming second at St Annes Old Links, third at Fulford, fourth at Wilmslow, and 10th at West Lancs.
“I’ve been playing quite consistently on the 1836 Tour and I carried that through to Q School,” he reflected.
“I’ve had a series of high finishes – no wins, but it’s good to be contending.”
A change in his winter routine could have provided the foundations for his improved consistency, with McCarthy placing an emphasis on playing ahead of practice.
“I’ve been playing as much as I can during the winter, not only competitions, but spending most of my time on the course,” he revealed. “I haven’t necessarily worked on one aspect of my game.
“I’ve been trying to keep a scorecard in my hand as much as I could. Through the winter in previous years I’ve gone away and practised and I’ve not always been playing, and you kind of get out of the habit of playing and trying to score.
“As well as competitions, I’ve been up at Moortown a lot and had odd games at other places as well with mates.”
Besides qualifying for the EuroPro Tour, McCarthy earned himself a category on the Alps Tour, which is based on the continent, giving himself a second opening onto competitive golf.
“I went away early December last year to qualify although it’s still up in the air as to whether I’ll use it, but I’ve got the option,” he said.
“Some times it would work out the same to play there as a EuroPro event; you pay about £300 for EuroPro Tour entry and the Alps Tour it’s about £100, so there’s £200 to help towards flights, travel and hotels – and it means I might get to play in a bit of sunshine.”
Without a sponsor, he will be funding his year by dipping into the reserves he has built up in the past and said: “A few good performances early on this year would really help me out.”
With qualification confirmed for two tours, he says he will now put a schedule together based on what his funds “can run to”.
Like millions of other golfers, McCarthy watched in amazement as Sheffield’s Danny Willett won the first major of the year on Sunday, the Masters at Augusta National.
“Danny winning was awesome,” he said of his former Yorkshire Boys team-mate. “He’s a great lad.
“He was always confident. He will believe he can go on and do the grand slam. He’s got the game for it, he doesn’t have a weakness in his game, so that’s exactly what he’ll be thinking.”