Dougherty on comeback trail

THREE-TIME European Tour champion and former Walker Cup star Nick Dougherty, who spent his formative years as a member of Chorley club Shaw Hill and playing amateur golf with Lancashire, will play in the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic at the end of the month.

NICK DOUGHERTY

NICK DOUGHERTY

Dougherty teed it up in last year’s event at Almouj Golf, The Wave, Muscat, and found himself in a good position after a second round 68 but couldn’t capitalise over the weekend, shooting 76 and 78 for a final finishing position of 57th.

The former Blackburn Queen Elizabeth GS pupil made a name for himself with a superb amateur career and when he turned professional in 2001 he promptly gained membership to The European Tour via Qualifying School. In his debut season of 2002 he finished 36th on the Order of Merit and was named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

In 2005 he clinched his first professional title in Singapore and two years later he was victorious at the Home of Golf with a superb win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. Dougherty wrapped up his third career victory with a sublime one-stroke win over Retief Goosen at the BMW International in Germany.

The sudden death of his mother, Ennis, in 2008, affected him badly and although the BMW win came a year later his game was suffering, culminating with him losing his European Tour card in 2011.

Since his marriage in 2010 he has spent much of the last few years on the Challenge Tour playing a number of European Tour events on sponsor’s invites. He feels he still has all the necessary tools at hand needed to get back to where he was – winning top class events around the world.

“The Challenge Tour is a bit more under the radar and it has been better for me to get on with things and make the improvements I need to make,” said Dougherty shortly after last year’s National Bank of Oman Golf Classic.

“I feel happier now than I was two or three years ago. First of all, I have wonderful stability in my life, with my wife Di and son Max, and I look forward to playing golf now.

“The good news is that I am now going to find out how good I am. If I don’t make it all the way back, so be it. But I know I am capable of achieving great things and that is all that matters.

“I’d like to thank the National Bank of Oman for kindly offering me a sponsor’s invite. I thought last year’s event was first class in every aspect of the tournament. Now I’m looking forward to having the opportunity of putting in a much better performance.”

This year Dougherty has played seven times on The European Tour, on sponsor’s invites, and he knows that four good rounds in the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, on October 30-November 2, will set him up nicely for an assault on Qualifying School.

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