AIG Irish Close Champion Alex Gleeson will head into the European Nations Cup in Spain next week in confident mood, his early season form kick-started by warm-weather winter competition and a positive vibe from a close-knit Ireland squad.
Ireland will be defending their title at Sotogrande having benefited from the strong competition provided by Golfing Union of Ireland excursions to Argentina, South Africa and Spain.
“The game is good. We’ve had a busy start to the year out in Argentina, then South Africa and Spain so far and had a lot nicer weather to play in,” Gleeson told The Irish Examiner as the GUI unveiled the new Under Armour uniforms its national teams will be wearing from next week.
“The tournaments have been going well, I’m playing some nice golf. It’s early in the season and I’m still working out a few kinks but it’s starting to come together nicely. Practising here in the winter is not exactly conducive to playing great golf so the fact that we can get away with the GUI to these places allows us to practice in perfect weather on great courses, and against really good fields as well. All of that makes a difference at the start of the year. There’s a big difference between practising and playing in tournaments with a card in hand and I know all the lads find it really beneficial coming into the year and getting the competitive juices flowing.”
For the European Nations Cup, a 72-hole strokeplay championship running from March 29 to April 1, Gleeson has been selected in an Ireland team alongside Robin Dawson, Stuart Grehan and senior debutant Kevin Le Blanc to defend their title won last year at La Reserva.
“We’re defending champs so hopefully we can go out and deliver the goods again. It’s on a new course this year, though, and none of us has played it.
“I can’t wait to get over there. We’re a close team, everyone does get on really, really well. We spend so much time together in hotels and on buses and stuff and I think that’s definitely why we’ve done quite well as teams over the last three, four and five years. Everyone just gels. “There are no egos and everybody’s just doing their best for the team. That’s why we play so well together.
“We’re all really good mates but we’re really competitive with each other as well and when you see one of the lads playing well it spurs you on, you’re thinking, ‘if’s doing well then so can I’ and it gives you a bit of confidence to go on.”
And if nothing else, Ireland will be feeling a million dollars as they sport a fresh look for 2017, Gleeson and co. being the first team to don kit from the GUI’s new official clothing supplier Under Armour. Gleeson argues that feeling good in the clothes they compete in does have a positive impact on his game. “It’s lovely gear, looks really well and if you look good and you feel good when you’re going out to play you’re in a better mood and it definitely translates into your golf. So we’ve no excuses now, anyway, it’s all on us.”
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