Meet the Sleeping Giant

Profile of Nick Dougherty

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 4 Aug 2003

Nick Dougherty

I was delighted to see Nick Dougherty hole a missable putt on the final green in the Scandinavian Masters to earn himself second place and a good night’s sleep.

In fact, he can safely sleep for a week – a probably will – after earning the £100,000 that will secure his playing privileges on the European Tour for another year.

The 21-year-old, who finished a couple of shots behind Adam Scott, has glandular fever. The illness gives the spikey-haired and easy-going young golfer the heavy-eyed appearance of having spent a night on the town with his pals. But I know from my own son’s teenage years, it’s actually a debilitating illness that leaves you feeling lethargic and desperate for sleep at most times of the day.

In fact, Liverpudlian Dougherty awoke from a 17-hour sleep to claim a share of the lead at Barseback with a first round 67 and held on until the sixth hole of the final round when the Australian took over.

The protégé of six time major champion Nick Faldo, one of the heroes of the 2001 Walker Cup victory over the US and last year’s Rookie of the Year, jokes: "I’m a walking mattress. Every time I get in a car I fall asleep.

"I got in the hotel at 3.30 on Wednesday afternoon and woke up at 9 am on Thursday morning. That's not normal but it's the best illness I've had because I do love my sleep!"

Medical advice suggested he take a long break to aid his recovery but after failing to make an impression on the Volvo Order of Merit with less than £50,000 to his name – he literally couldn’t afford to quit the Tour even for a short time.

"The doctor said ‘don't play’ but I have to; my career is too important to think I'll just forget this year," says Dougherty who missed six out of the next eight cuts after the illness was diagnosed in May.

The multi-talented lad from Shaws Golf club near Blackburn (he plays the flute at advanced level and is now learning to fly) is one of the most unassuming characters on Tour.

He calls everyone ‘mate’ and is working hard to prove that nice guys don’t always come second, though his best finishes so far are as runner-up - in Qatar in 2002 and this week in Sweden – behind Scott.

He has already been pencilled in by new Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer as a likely contender for next year’s matches with the US, having competed brilliantly in the Walker Cup alongside other contenders like Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell.

"I do think about the Ryder Cup. As badly as I had been playing, I could still break into the top 20 this year," says Dougherty, who has been appointed an ambassador for the Golf Foundation.

"I've got the game to win a couple of tournaments, it's about having the right approach with a better technique, which I've got, and by the time the qualifying period starts in Switzerland later this month, hopefully I've got the game going again and I will be a contender."

The golfer they call ‘Little Nick’ has a new nickname currently of Rip Van Winkle but he realises he could soon become a sleeping giant.

Pro tip:

Former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart took only 23 putts in his second round 67 in Sweden and gave credit to his glove. "I switched to a new putter and kept my glove on when putting for the first time since I was a kid. It really paid off."

And if you're looking for the right glove for the job then check out our buyer's guide and glove reviews.

Why not try it? Tell us your best tips on the forum.



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