By Brian Keogh
Dubliner Eamonn Brady is on the verge of breaking into the big time at last by becoming a home bird.
The 28 year old missed his final round tee time at the European Tour School last season and ended up with no card.
He was facing a year without a sponsor and only a ¤12,000 euro grant from the Team Ireland Golf Trust to see him through.
But Brady emerged from the gloom by joining the PGA Europro in the UK the equivalent of the third division in football terms and winning two events.
Now he is guaranteed a place on the Challenge Tour next year. But before that he still has a chance to bid for a full tour card at the European Tour qualifying school in Spain.
"I felt really stupid missing my tee-time this time last year," he admitted. "But these things happen and as a result I got to play on this tour this year and I have gained so much confidence.
"Who knows I could have gone on the Challenge Tour and had no luck."
But playing golf close to home has definitely made it easier for Brady to get help with his swing when it goes wrong.
"Last year I played on the Canadian Tour and had a good win but when things started to go wrong I was stuck on my own," Brady said.
"I didn't have support but being near home this year means that I am able to go to tournaments and then come back home and get help from my coach or my physio.
"I am getting refreshed every weekend and then I can go out all guns blazing the following week rather than just putting a patch on last week and hoping I play well.
"This year if I slip up one week I can go home and my coach batters the head off me and tells me what I was doing wrong.
"It has worked. Last year after I won I just went slightly downhill. This year I've won again and kept it up so all the signs are there."
Brady won the first professional tour event he played in, the Myrtle Beach Open in February 2001, but made just two more cuts all season.
Separated from coach George Henry, he badly missed having technical guidance.
But that has all changed now as he prepares his assault on the final Europro Tour events of the season and a trip to the second stage of the Tour School in Spain next month.
Life is good and Brady is even enjoying some of his winnings.
"It's the first time I've ever had a but of extra money in my pocket and it feels nice," he beamed. "It's expensive enough on tour because you are probably paying out about £700 sterling each week for your entrance fee and expenses. It's dear enough but it's the first year I have actually made money so it's good news."
But Brady feels that he has also moved up a gear as a player and become more consistent.
"I've done very well this year and come on a lot as a player, especially confidence wise," he said
"I feel that I'm playing well enough now to go through tour school and get my card. It's just a question of keeping the head. I've definitely got the confidence this year. Last year it was only a slight hope but this year I'm definitely planning on it."