Dermot McElroy acknowledges that he will need to elevate his game in 2023 as he makes the step up to the Challenge Tour but also feels that it is a step he is ready to make after securing a card for Europe’s second-tier via the EuroPro Tour.
McElroy finished third on the Order of Merit meaning he secured one of the five Challenge Tour cards on offer for next season.
The Ballymena native already has some experience on the Challenge Tour – most notably 14 events in 2018 – so he is looking forward to getting a full season under his belt despite having no interest in hanging around too long!
“It will be a step up. Everyone is a good player on the EuroPro but on the Challenge Tour everyone is a super player so it’s definitely a step up,” said McElroy. “It’s a totally different environment to Europro where you’d arrive Tuesday, play the pro-am then play the event and home for the weekend.
“Challenge Tour is Monday to Monday, you fly over Monday and leave on Monday. It’s different in approach and practice and resting time. I’ve already had experience of that in 2018 I played 14 events on the Challenge Tour so I know what I want to do and how to go about my practice and give myself as much time as possible.
“The Challenge Tour is only a stepping tour, a second tier tour so you have to go through the stages. It’s hard graft but my main goal is to keep progressing in golf and keep going through the ranks,” added McElroy whose long term goal is to progress from the DP World Tour onto the PGA Tour.
The 29-year-old’s story is one of redemption having avenged a gut-wrenching near miss last season where he fell from the top five to seventh at last year’s Tour Championship after the players behind him finished in the top two.
However, McElroy has become mentally strong and chose to focus on the positives in a year which saw him win for the first time as a professional at the CubeFunder Championship and impress at the ISPS Handa World Invitational in a rare DP World Tour start – which ultimately fuelled the fire in his belly to go one better this year.
“It was a positive year for me I won last year for the first time as a pro which was amazing especially where I was in 2019 with my game. Mentally I was completely gone. Even being so close last year gave me great confidence. I played pretty good but I could play better.
“I was happy going into this year and I knew if I played good golf I would be right up there.”
McElroy is renowned for his low scoring, shooting eleven rounds of 67 or lower in as many events, a statistic he puts down to playing from the fairway having seen his tee to green game rewarded in spades.
“I think I’ve driven the ball great all season. Obviously when you drive it well you’re on the fairway you can spin it and control your ball for second shots. Driving the ball straight has been a big benefit to my game. Over the years I wouldn’t say I was a bad driver but the last couple of years I’ve driven the ball fantastic so my tee to green is very good.”
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