A unbeaten run in the Interprovincial Championship has given John Ross Galbraith a huge shot in the arm ahead of this week’s North of Ireland Amateur Championship sponsored by Cathedral Eye Clinic.
While Ulster struggled as team, eventually finishing third behind winners Leinster, the reigning Irish Close champion ended the tournament with 5½ points out of six.
“It certainly helps with the confidence,” said the 21-year-old Whitehead golfer.
“I felt that I was playing well going into the week.
“Hopefully if I make it through qualifying I will be hard to beat in the matchplay.”
Galbraith is still a relative novice in terms of North of Ireland appearances – this will only be his fourth championship – but he is a regular at the north coast venue playing social golf.
“I love the place and I get up to play there quite a bit, just for a day out,” he said.
“It’s one of my favourite courses but it’s even better when you are playing it in a Championship.
“I usually play decently enough but I’ve only played three times and made it through qualifying twice.
“Even then, the furthest I got in the match-play was the second round.”
Galbraith’s win in the Close last year lifted his profile and also raised the expectation levels.
As part of the Irish panel he spent a good part of the early season playing around the world in the likes of Spain and Argentina but struggled with his game.
“I was trying different things with my swing but couldn’t get it to click,” added John-Ross.
“I had a bad Lytham Trophy, but after that I found a wee thing and I have been playing really solidly since then.
“I’m still looking for that first win of the season but I still have a few events left and the Irish Close Championship title to defend later in the year.”
The 300 strong field will play two rounds of qualifying today and tomorrow over the Dunluce and Valley courses.
The leading 62 players will progress to the match-play rounds where they will be joined by Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) and Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) who have received a bye into that stage of the event.
Last year’s champion, Chris Selfridge will not be back to defend his title, having turned professional but the 2014 beaten finalist Robin Dawson (Faithlegg) is back hoping to go one step further this time around.