Dermot McElroy admits he is feeling the most comfortable he ever has on the golf course as he prepares to launch his bid at as home an event he could possibly have at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational.
The two-time EuroPro Tour winner grew up playing his golf at neighbouring Ballymena, which is only 10 minutes up the road from Galgorm Castle, and has played both it and Massereene plenty of times while growing up as a teenager.
But he has never played the two courses in such excellent form, McElroy coming into this week not only playing some of the best golf of his life but also having put himself in a commanding position looking ahead to next year.
Having won on the EuroPro Tour at the recent CPG Classic and currently top of the Order of Merit on the satellite tour, the 29-year-old is all but guaranteed his Challenge Tour playing rights for next season already, which means he can pick and choose his schedule moving forward.
And that has McElroy coming into this week in a hugely positive frame of mind, not worried he should be playing on the EuroPro Tour instead and able to focus fully on potentially racking up a first DP World Tour victory.
“I haven’t been in this position before, so you could say I’m more comfortable going into the second half of the season than I’ve ever been before. I didn’t have that win last year coming here. So this is probably the most comfortable I’ve been at this stage, yeah,” he says.
“And playing a DP World Tour event is obviously great. You have to play four great rounds to win, for sure, but a good week here could be really big for me. I want a good week but ultimately for me it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m feeling good with myself then I’ll be happy whatever the result.”
McElroy is carrying some decent form into this week, too, particularly after that win on the EuroPro Tour, which was followed by back-to-back made cuts on the Challenge Tour in Germany and then down at The K Club at the Irish Challenge.
He knows where he has to improve this week in order to turn those made cuts into stronger finishes, with a couple of poor final rounds costing him a potentially lucrative pay day on the second tier, and he hopes a short break will have helped.
“I was hoping for better results from Germany and The K Club, I just had bad last rounds. I put myself in good positions – I can’t say I played outstanding golf, just good, solid golf all three rounds in Germany and The K Club. Then I just couldn’t get it done in the last round,” he lamented.
“I can’t speak for Germany but I hit a brick wall at The K Club, I really needed a break that week. But I still have the second half of the season to play on. A lot of golf still to be played, which I’m excited for.”