PLAYING on frozen greens at Moyola Park is hardly ideal preparation for your first tournament of the year, but Gareth Shaw is still hopeful of producing a decent performance when he gets his Challenge Tour campaign underway in India on Thursday.
The 27-year-old will make his season bow at The Gujarat Kensville Challenge which is being played at Kensville G&CC in Ahmedabad (Jan 31-Feb3)
“I’ve never played in India before, so it will be a new experience for me,” said Gareth.
“Obviously it’s been tough to practice, but I’ve been active and I’m happy with what I have done.
“My touch might be a off a bit. It’s been difficult to work on my short game.
“That’s an area that tends to stay sharp through playing competitively but overall I’d be content with the state of my game and reasonably confident.”
Winner of the Alps Tour last year, the first man from Northern Ireland to do so, Shaw has been making steady progress since his first taste of Challenge Tour action in 2009.
Back then, Gareth, who turned professional in 2008 after a stellar amateur career, started the campaign brightly.
But his performances tailed off and he eventually finished down in 105th in the ranking.
Playing on the Alps Tour forced the 27-year-old to reassess his goals and a renewed commitment paid off handsomely last year.
Under the tutelage of coach Jonny Foster and performance expert Fergal Wallace, Gareth has rebuilt his game and hisconfidence.
He heads to India with realistic expectations but knows that a couple of decent finishes would go a long way towards easing his progress during the rest of 2013.
The Challenge Tour, which has expanded to take in events in the Ukraine, Oman and Kazakhstan, is expensive to compete on.
“For India it was £200 for a visa, £700 for a flight and £100 a night for the hotel before you have even hit a shot,” added Gareth.
“With my category, I won’t be able to play in all the events so I have to grab every opportunity that comes my way.
“I would love to try and hit the ground running but it is difficult at this time of the year. It would be great to the year off to a flying start,” he added.
Gareth’s plan is to play next week followed by the Barclays Kenya Open Feb14-Feb17, a tournament he’s familiar with from his last Challenge Tour season in 2009.
Then there is a break in the schedule before the Madrid Challenge in late April.