Damien McGrane is relishing his return to tournament golf at this week’s Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal after three weeks without any competitive golf.
The man from Meath has been enjoying some time away from the game since his last outing, the Johnnie Walker Classic in February, but he’s now ready to get back into the swing of things starting on the small Portugese island of Porto Santo this week.
He said: “It was nice having three weeks at home – but I don’t think four weeks would suit me. It’s time to get the clubs out and start swinging again.
“I’ve been rusty over the past few days but you can’t be a 100 percent fresh all the time. I need to try and find some form now and the only way you can find form is by playing golf tournaments.”
McGrane goes into the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the title.
Only Thomas Aiken, who impressed at the CA Championship last week, is higher in the current Race to Dubai standings and Anthony Wall and David Horsey are the only men in this week’s field ranked above him in the world rankings.
Despite being under pressure to perform, McGrane is doing his best to diffuse any talk of any easy week.
He said: “I just want to play well, I have respect for all the players here, there are so many good players here this week and anyone can win, all I want is to be in with a chance on Sunday afternoon.”
This is the first time that the Seve Ballesteros designed Porto Santo Golfe has been used for a major European Tour event.
Despite being less than five years old, the course is more than ready to host such an event and McGrane is looking forward to the challenges it will pose.
He said: “It’s a beautiful place and there is some wonderful scenery, it’s nice to be here playing golf. It’s certainly a good test and it should be an interesting week.
“Normally we play on soft greens but they are rock hard here, so that’ll be good because I think my short game is as good as anyone’s.”
McGrane begins his first round alongside Jarmo Sandelin and Thomas Aiken at 1.40pm on Thursday, while the other Irishmen in the field are Jonathan Caldwell, Michael McGeady, Simon Thornton and Michael Hoey.