Relaxed Fisher focused on finding old form

EVEN titleholders have aspirations and the 2010 Irish Open champion Ross Fisher is no different from the rest of the field this week in looking at Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke’s major victories as a spur to further personal success.

Fisher’s victory at Killarney & 12 months ago was the Englishman’s fourth on the European Tour and ushered in with a course-record 61 in the second round and a thrilling final-day duel with Pádraig Harrington.

It also helped secure his place on the European Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor last October.

Yet for all the Ryder Cup triumphs and tour victories, Fisher is looking to convert the talent that helped him lead all four major championships at one stage in 2009 into trophies.

Seeing Tour colleagues do that is an extra incentive, despite an indifferent season so far.

“This year has been a little bit disappointing,” Fisher said yesterday on his return to Killarney. “Missing the US Open for the first time in a few years was bitterly disappointing. The Masters was a great week for me. I had a decent chance on the Sunday, and just hit one bad shot on 16 which cost me a double. If it wasn’t for that, it would’ve been a Top-10 finish at a major, which probably would have got me into the US Open.

“Seeing Rory demolish everyone at the US Open and seeing Clarkey play so well at The Open Championship, spurs players on. I’m no different. I want to be out there competing in the biggest and best tournaments.”

With the Irish Open followed by the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, Fisher is optimistic that a good week in defence of his Irish title can kickstart a strong second half of the 2011 campaign.

“Unfortunately this year has not quite gone as according to plan. For some reason, the putts are not dropping for me. But I know once I convert a few birdie chances, I know there’s definitely a win, if not two or three in there.

“So I’m hoping for three really big weeks with here, the Bridgestone and the PGA.

“I try not to put pressure on myself,” Fisher added. “I don’t try and treat it as a job. I treat it as a sport I love doing. But things changed a lot this year. After a decent year last year and the birth of our second child, that’s made quite a big impact on life. So it’s been different. I’m not putting that down to why the golf suffered. It’s just been that sort of year where you know, you need a couple of breaks. Hopefully this week will be the springboard for my season.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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