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John Ross Galbraith sets his sights on Galgorm success

By Peter Hutcheon

New North of Ireland champion John Ross Galbraith sees no reason why he can't contend for the Northern Ireland Open title at Galgorm Castle next month.

The Whitehead 21-year-old, who has just been named on the Ireland team for this season's Home Internationals, is one of the prominent Ulster amateurs named in the field for the Challenge Tour tournament.

After watching fellow Irish international Paul Dunne mounting a strong challenge for the Open Championship at St Andrews last week, he is in the mood to improve on last year's performance when he easily made the cut.

"I feel that my game is in better shape than it was last year and this is an event that I have been especially looking to, the Northern Ireland Open," he said.

"I know from last year that if I can play well then I can do well.

"Playing in front of a home crowd is always a good motivating factor."

The Home Internationals mark a swift return to the scene of Galbraith's North triumph at Royal Portrush.

"Getting picked for the Home Internationals was a big goal of mine for this year, so I'm delighted to have been selected," he added.

"The fact that it was to be played at Royal Portrush was a big part of that. It's going to be a class week."

Joining Galbraith in the field for the Northern Ireland Open, which is supported by the Ulster Bank and Sphere Global, will be fellow international Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell, last year's East of Ireland champion.

"I'm really looking forward to playing in Galgorm next week," he said.

"It's a great event and great to play against these great players in front of home support, then to head on to Portrush the following week to represent Ireland in the Home Internationals on home soil will be extra special again,"

Ballymena's Dermot McElroy and Knock's Colin Fairweather, who will earn his first senior cap after reaching the final of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch last week, will join Galbraith and Campbell in Portrush.

Tiarnan McLarnon is the third amateur who will tee it up at Galgorm after the Massereene golfer won this year's North of Ireland Strokeplay title at Galgorm.

Former world number one Tiger Woods concedes his form may have to get worse before it gets better, but insists he is close to turning the corner.

Woods has lurched from one career-worst performance to another in 2015, including missing consecutive cuts in Major championships for the first time in his career, at the US Open and Open Championship.

The 39-year-old carded rounds of 76 and 75 to miss the cut by seven shots at St Andrews and recorded just three birdies in two days on the Old Course, where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2000 and 2005.

Despite such performances - Woods also recorded three rounds in the 80s in six events - the 14-time Major winner believes his game is "coming together" ahead of this week's Quicken Loans National.

"The neat thing is I've done it before," Woods said of his latest comeback and swing change. "I've gone through this and, unfortunately, sometimes I have to get a little bit worse before I can make a giant stride to get forward and go better.

"It's frustrating not to be able to win golf tournaments. I'm not really there in contention very often and so that part is frustrating. But I know how close it feels and I know that I just need a couple shots here and there and it turns the tide.

"Every time I've had those opportunities I haven't done it.

"I didn't think it would take this long because I thought I would have my short game earlier, which I didn't at the very beginning of the year and so you can cover up a lot of different things when you're chipping and putting well.

"(Through) a lot of mis-steps throughout the years when I've changed coaches and techniques, my short game was all pretty good.

"But things are starting to come together. Again, I'm sticking with it, sticking with the process and just trying to make progress each and everyday."

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