Dermot McElroy leads eight Irish hopefuls into battle this week at Studley Wood for the first of just three remaining regular season events before October’s Grand Final at Slaley Hall.
The Ballymena pro finds himself in the driving seat for a Challenge Tour card, sitting fourth on this season’s Order of Merit with the top-5 at the conclusion of the Tour Championship earning promotion to Europe’s secondary Tour.
Aided by his superb victory at the Cubefinder Championship, McElroy will hope to have Irish eyes smiling once more as Ireland’s nine raiders look to make it three home winners on the spin following Simon Thornton’s unexpected victory in Clandeboye a fortnight ago.
No longer under the Team Ireland umbrella, McElroy has taken advantage of his full EuroPro schedule this term, supplemented by the odd start on the Challenge Tour and Main Tour.
This year’s Christy O’Connor Jnr award winner at the Irish Challenge, McElroy also enjoyed a top-20 finish at the European Tour’s World Invitational at Galgorm Castle, and although he’s clearly relished home conditions this term, it’s been a drill that he first turned to some 18-months ago that has unlocked the results he’s been enjoying this season.
“I’ve been working on a little drill for about a year and a half to do with my hips from the backswing,” McElroy explained. “Generally I get a little bit quick with my hips and I’d get that left shot quite often so I had to get that out of my game because in 2018, 2019, those swings were coming in maybe three times a round.
“They’re very destructive shots but what I’ve been working on the past year and a half seems to be paying dividends. That left shot has completely gone out of my game and that gives me a lot of confidence. I can take aim down the left side and hammer a straight fade which is great.”
McElroy is joined this week by the likes of Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan and Shannon’s Daniel Brennan with only the top-60 on this season’s money-list making the Tour Championship in October. However, a win can change it all given the top-heavy prize money weeks on the EuroPro Tour so they’ll be eager to continue Ireland’s recent run of success with Galway’s Ronan Mullarney, Kilkenny’s Luke Donnelly, West Cliff’s Brendan McCarroll, Whitehead’s JR Galbraith and Cork’s John Hickey all teeing-up on Wednesday.
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