No Walk-over for Moriarty

By Brian Keogh

Athlone ace Colm Moriarty expects to play in this year's Walker Cup - but you won't see him holding his breath.

The big-hitting 23-year-old won twice in Australia last month, leaving the top British and Australian starlets trailing in his wake.

Everyone is telling him he's a certainty to be called up by skipper Garth McGimpsey for September's showdown with the Americans at Ganton, but Moriarty has had his dreams shattered before.

Sensationally snubbed by McGimpsey for the St Andrews Trophy clash with the Continent last year, he's taking nothing for granted.

After outshining 11 of his fellow Walker Cup panellists with back-to-back wins in the New South Wales Medal and NSW Amateur championship, he's back on familiar ground.

"I'll just have to make sure they have no option but to pick me," he beamed. "But I'm under no illusions because I know that getting on a Walker Cup side is not the be all and end all."

Irish stars Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Graeme McDowell, Ronan Rafferty and Philip Walton are just some of the home produced Walker Cup players to make it big.

But the likes of Ulsterman Darren Clarke and English star Lee Westwood failed to get the nod from the crusty Royal and Ancient selectors and Moriarty is perfectly aware that it does not guarantee future success.

He said: "There is this perception that if you play Walker Cup you are going to be a superstar but it's definitely not the case.

"It gives you a great boost on your CV in the eyes of management groups. But it's no certainty for success. It would be a stepping stone and a great honour, but that's all."

Since his disappointment Moriarty has set about making a name for himself and succeeded.

"I'm sure if the team was picked in the morning I would be in," he said. "Now I'd say that I just have to play solidly throughout the year.

"Since the St Andrews Trophy team was picked I have played in the Home Internationals and beaten a couple of the guys who were on that team.

"There were 11 of the training panel in Australia and New Zealand and I did by far the best of us. If I have a solid season I should be in, but you never know. I'll have to play well in the Lytham Trophy, the British Amateur, the St Andrews Links and hopefully in the European Team Championships."

Moriarty finished 16 under par in the New South Wales Medal to win by four and leave Walker Cup panellists Gary Wolstenholme, Richard Finch, Jonathan Lupton and Lee Caulfield well behind.

The following week he became the first overseas player since New Zealand's Michael Campbell to win the NSW matchplay title.

"To win twice so early in the year was great really," Moriarty admitted. "I played well towards the end of last year and you are always kind of concerned to try and keep it going the following year.

"But I did a lot of work on my swing with my coach Brendan McDaid over the winter, trying to get more over the ball rather than hanging back on my right side. I'm just looking for more consistency really."

Moriarty has worked with putting guru Harold Swash and has been trying hard to match Padraig Harrington's record of perfect putts on the putting ruler.

"I'm getting near Padraig's record of 21 putts in a row from the wide end to the narrow end of this metal ruler about four feet long. So far I've managed to do 13 or 14 which isn't too bad."

Moriarty is hell-bent on a future in the professional game and he has shown that he has the talent to live with the big boys when he scorched to a 63 in Open qualifying in Scotland last year.

"I should have qualified easily for the Open at Muirfield last year because I shot a 63 in the first round of final qualifying at North Berwick and then took a 75 in the second round to miss out by two shots. But it was great experience for me."

Despite failing to make it through the second stage of the European Tour qualifying school late last year, this plus four handicapper looks to have all the attributes necessary to make it in the card and pencil game.

"I just worry about my own game and don't worry about what anybody else is doing," he confessed. "Even though I'm an amateur I'm pretty selfish when it comes to golf. As for the future, I would settle for a full Challenge Tour card to start.

"There is no plan B. But it doesn't make any difference pressure wise. If I'm not making a penny when I'm 35 years of age I'm not going to keep playing golf. But there's still plenty of time before we get there."