Fired-up Dermot McElroy aiming to thrill home fans at the Northern Ireland Open
Ballymena's Dermot McElroy is making his mark in the professional game and would like nothing better than a winning performance in front of home crowds at this week's Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf at Galgorm Castle.
Tournament week has finally arrived and the best players in Europe will compete in the new Shootout Sunday format.
McElroy turned professional in time for last year's NI Open, but narrowly missed the cut. The 24-year-old's best finish came in the inaugural 2013 event when he finished ninth.
This year he has made great strides and got off to a fast start by winning the first stage of the PGA EuroPro Tour School in March and finished tied second in final qualifying.
"I had no category so I had to play through the PGA EuroPro Tour School. That got me a full category on the EuroPro Tour and the first two tournaments I finished second and joint second and that gave me a great boost up the Order of Merit," said McElroy. "At the start of the year, I targeted the NI Open as a tournament I could do well at. I'm really looking forward to it, getting stuck in and trying to win.
"I have great support from the likes of Team Ireland and the support and advice I get from Fergie (Wallace) is invaluable," added McElroy, who will have Wallace caddying for him.
McElroy is still learning his trade but continues to make progress. "It is different, there's no doubt. There are so many good golfers out here," he said.
"It's small margins at this level. On the main tours, they maybe hit it a bit longer, hole a few more putts. One thing I did notice is all the top guys have their set routines, that's important.
"I look forward to big weeks like the NI Open and the Irish Open. I know myself when I play well I'm capable of making plenty of birdies. You just need to learn to get comfortable playing in bigger tournaments and in front of bigger crowds. Hopefully then it becomes second nature."
McElroy has played Galgorm many times and won the 2013 NI Amateur Open there. He will be hoping local knowledge can go a long way.
"The secret at Galgorm is hitting it straight off the tee, you must find the fairways. Hopefully I can give the home fans something to cheer about," he added.
Entry to the NI Open is free and there is still time to register on niopen.golf.