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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbrian golf ace Gary Lockerbie says return to form inspired by baby son

Gary Lockerbie admits there were times when he felt like throwing his toys out the pram during a disastrous 2011.

Gary Lockerbie photo
Gary Lockerbie and son Harry

But now Cumbria’s top golfer is back on the fairway to glory after the joy of fatherhood helped turn around his career.

Lockerbie credits his eight-month-old son Harry with inspiring a return to form which has put him at the top of the Challenge Tour order of merit and in line for a return to the European Tour.

The 29-year-old, who lost his European Tour card two years ago, has put a disappointing 2011 behind him and posted four top five finishes this year, and winnings of 89,743 euros (£69,963) have left him top of the pile ahead of Sweden’s Magnus A Carlsson.

He collected his biggest cheque of the season – 55,500 euros (£42,877) – when he finished second in the Saint-Omer Open in France in June, and not even a below-par weekend when he finished tied 18th in the English Challenge in Stoke-by-Nayland in Essex can dent his confidence.

After enduring the worst year of his career, the burly former county player took to the gym over the winter to get himself in better shape as well as putting in the hours on the practice range, but he admits becoming a father for the first time haS made a huge difference.

“The arrival of Harry has made me much more responsible and helped me turn my game around,” said Lockerbie.

“It’s a made a big difference to my life and also to my frame of mind. Bad tournaments don’t seem as bad when I get home to see the little fella.

“I didn’t lose my confidence last year – I didn’t have it in the first place.

“But this year every time I teed up in a tournament at the start of the year I was in contention so it was only a matter of time before I had a good week and that came in the Saint-Omer Open.

“I did a lot of work over the winter, probably with more quality work on my game and fitness work, which has certainly helped.

“Guys at the top are fit guys and there are not many Colin Montgomeries about anymore.

“Myself and James Housby, who plays on the Europro Tour, were in the gym every day over the winter, and it was good fun.

“I’ve certainly improved this year as the bad rounds aren’t as bad and the good rounds are better.”

Lockerbie flew out to Helsinki today for this week’s 170,000 euros Finnish Challenge, hoping for a return to top form in time for some lucrative events in Switzerland, Russia and Kazakhstan later this year.

After turning down a sponsor’s invite to play in the European Tour event in Austria, he tied for 18th place at the English Challenge with his six-under-par total of 282, 10 shots behind winner Chris Paisley.

However, he knows he can afford the odd blip in form after virtually securing a return to the European Tour.

“I was neither disappointed nor pleased with how I played but I’m still top of the order of merit,” said Lockerbie.

“It’s easier to play this year as I’m not under as much pressure because of the money I have on board. I’ve pretty much secured my European Tour card for next year as I’m almost guaranteed a top 10 place.

“It would be nice to win a tournament but I can go through the year without a win and still finish top of the order of merit.

“As long as I don’t fall out of the top 10 it would virtually guarantee me playing in all European Tour events next year.

“I’m pleased with how I’m doing even though I didn’t play great over the weekend.

“Finland will give me a chance to get my game in better shape for some big tournaments.”

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