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Mullarney relishing race to lead Bridgestone Order of Merit

Galway's Ronan Mullarney welcomes chance to gain automatic selection on Ireland team through Bridgestone Order of Merit​

  • 05 March 2018

Picture: ​Ronan Mullarney (Galway) during the AIG Senior Cup Semi-Finals at the 2017 AIG Cups and Shields at Carton House. 22/09/2017.Picture: Golffile | Jenny Matthews​

Promoted to the GUI National Panel at the tail end of last season, Galway's Ronan Mullarney is hoping to break into the Ireland men's team this term.

For the first time, players like Mullarney will have the chance to secure their place before the team is picked for the Home Internationals - by finishing in the top two on the Bridgestone Order of Merit.

"It's brilliant because it's set in stone. It's a target," says Mullarney. "If you don't reach it, you only have yourself to blame."

The 23-year-old former boys international will continue to juggle the demands of golf and education this season as he works toward an MSc in Strategy and Innovation at Maynooth University. Mullarney is spreading his masters over two years to give himself the best possible chance. He has come to appreciate the value of marginal gains.

"It's all about the percentages," Mullarney maintains. "The more of them that you can get in your favour the better."

Mullarney has had to play the long game since graduating from junior golf. Adding length off the tee was an obvious requirement but making the transition to men's golf required patience too.

"It took me maybe a little bit longer than most to make the step up," Mullarney reflects. "Maybe it's the way that I play. A lot of the boys courses are small, tight parklands. The links courses are probably still quite tight but a lot longer. And you need a lot more shots. It took me a little bit longer to get used to that."

Mullarney is not one to pursue radical transformations. Piece by piece, inch by inch he figures his way. 

"I don't try to overly change things in my game," he reveals. "It's always fine tuning I find."

Funny, for a boy who had to sneak onto the course with his dad when he first started playing - he was two years too young for Galway's junior programme - Mullarney has followed a more conventional route since moving to college. His exploits at junior level helped him gain a place on the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship Programme when he began his bachelor degree at Maynooth in 2014.

Unfortunately for Mullarney, college commitments mean that he will be an absentee from the West of Ireland, the first of eight tournaments that will count towards this year's merit table. The West will carry more weight because the merit award is now confined to domestic events, another positive move from Mullarney's perspective.

"World ranking is so important now," he explains. "The better the event is at home, the more chance the players at home have of getting a world ranking. It's good for everyone."

Mullarney has picked up some significant titles in recent seasons, winning the Mullingar Scratch Cup in 2016 and the Fife Students Open last year. A major victory is the next step, one that would catapult him up the Bridgestone Order of Merit and push him ever closer to his ultimate goal of playing for Ireland.