Kildare’s Conor O’Rourke is in confident mood ahead of the Alps Tour Grand Final that begins tomorrow at Lake Maggiore in Italy.
O’Rourke finds himself in 13th spot on Order of Merit rankings, just over three grand shy of the top-5 who will take a full category on the Challenge Tour next year. Yet after a consistent season in Alps company, where he hasn’t missed a cut all year, the Naas pro insists he won’t let money be the focus of his mind when he tees up at the tour finale tomorrow.
“I’m about 3k off the Challenge Tour but I won’t be focused on that,” he maintains.
“I’ve been playing enough good golf to trust what I’m doing. If I keep doing my bits of homework each day, I’d hope it adds up to a high finish. A lot of guys will be playing under more pressure than I am but I fancy if I keep doing what I’m doing then I’ll be fine come the end of the week.”
Having turned professional 13 months ago, O’Rourke went on to reflect on what has been an encouraging rookie year in the paid ranks. He has earned 10,933.50 points on the Alps Tour but it’s been the strides he’s seen in his own game, particularly when teeing up alongside elite Challenge Tour talent that has given him the most encouragement.
“I’ve really enjoyed the year,” reflected the 27-year-old. “In hindsight, I’m delighted I turned pro when I did, stayed amateur for as long as I did. I’ve come out here and been comfortable, whether it’s Alps level or playing with top class Challenge Tour talent, I’ve never felt out of my depth and that gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
O’Rourke also paid tribUte to the army of sponsors who have helped him on his journey so far, reserving special praise for coach and Naas professional, Gavin Lunny, who remains a constant source of support no matter where O’Rourke might be.
“For me, massive, massive thanks must go to Gavin,” he said. “I work with him every other day when I’m home. He’s a guy I can email every night. One that’s always there to keep an eye on me and give me sound advice.
“Donal Scott has been a great help with my short game and putting too and Neil Manchip at Team Ireland is always there to talk. Team Ireland have been great. The support they offer and the starts they bring have been super and I’m just really grateful for where I’m at.”
Opportunity beckons this week with the €45,000 prize money tournament set to be played over 72 holes of traditional stroke. But because it is the Grand Final, 70,000 points will be distributed to give the opportunity to players not in the top positions of the Order of Merit to jump in the top-5 with this last tournament. The winner of the Grand Final will get 11,000 points while the runner up will grab 7,000 points.
Let’s hope Conor can grab his fair share!