Fearless Moriarty ready for home test

WHAT a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, 28-year-old Colm Moriarty from Athlone was relying on invitations to Challenge Tour events as he attempted to get his career back on track after a dismal 2006 season.

He had been playing some solid golf this season on the third level Europro Tour where he won one tournament before racking up another four top 10 finishes in six events, but faced a long battle to climb to the top level of European golf.

Now, after winning the FIRSTPLUS Wales Challenge last weekend, Moriarty has a great chance to win a place on next year’s European Tour as one of the top 20 on the rankings.

He moved from 176th to 34th in three days following his €20,800 victory in Wales as he heads into the €150,000 Challenge of Ireland starting over the beautifully-located, Christy O’Connor Junior-designed Glasson course just outside Athlone.

Much of the credit for Moriarty’s upturn in form has to go to his coach Brendan McDaid and psychologist Liam Moggan, two men he turned to at the start of the year after the darkest period of his professional career last season.

“I went out to Arizona at the start of the year to try and get an idea of where my game was at,” Moriarty explained.

“I played really poorly out there and I rang Brendan when I was making my way home from America on the Thursday. Myself and Kate Gallagher, who won the Irish Girls’ recently, went out to San Roque in Spain with Brendan on the Monday for a week. I haven’t looked back and there is no doubt it is in no small part down to Brendan. He has instilled confidence in my game and we know how much this is about confidence and belief.

“Liam has been a big help — it’s no surprise I didn’t go and see him too much last season when I was hitting it all over the place.

“I’m looking forward to this week even more now because there won’t be as much pressure on me to do well. Playing on your home course without a category and with a lot of local interest would have been a lot of pressure, but after winning last week, a lot of that has lifted and I can try and play my game and do well again.

“It should be fantastic this week and hopefully myself or one of the other Irish boys can keep this run going — we’re doing alright at the moment, after Padraig winning two weeks ago and me last week.”

Harrington is hopeful that the event can play an important role in the development of Ireland and Europe’s next generation of golfing talent.

“Hosting a Challenge Tour event can bring huge benefits to Ireland’s professional players,” said the Open champion. “The Challenge Tour is a tough school and if you are good enough to earn your European Tour card through the Challenge Tour then you can compete at any level. It’s great that Ireland has the chance to host an event like this, because it gives our young professionals the opportunity to gain experience against a high quality international field in tough tournament conditions.”

A total of 29 Irish players (Moriarty, Michael Hoey, Brendan McCarroll, Gary Cullen, Mark O’Sullivan, Greg Bowden, Noel Fox, Simon Thornton, David Mortimer, Robert Giles, Gareth Maybin, John Dwyer, Michael McGeady, Leslie Walker, Alan Murray, David P. Jones, Tim Rice, Stephen Browne, Justin Kehoe, Gary Madden, Mark Murphy, Mark Campbell, Danny Sugrue, Padraig Dooley, Mervyn Owens, Paul McDonald and Damian Mooney and amateurs Joe Lyons and Seamus Power) go into action over the testing Glasson layout along with many of Europe’s brightest young talents, including Challenge Tour Number One and 2005 US Amateur champion, Edoardo Molinari of Italy, in addition to seasoned campaigners such as former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker of England.

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