Dougherty: Not afraid of failing after losing card

Nick Dougherty returns from a six-week absence from competition

looking forward to the birth of his first child and playing without

a fear of failure.

Dougherty will go up against four former Ryder Cup players and

six former champions competing Thursday in the Madeira Islands

Open.

It is only Dougherty’s third event this season after competing

in two Challenge Tour events, capped by a tie for fourth in the

Colombia Classic in March. He’s lost all playing rights on the

European Tour, where he’s won three times, so he’s concentrating on

the Challenge Tour.

”It’s been a long time since I can say I am looking forward to

my golf as I just punished myself so hard trying to hold onto my

main European Tour card,” he said after Wednesday’s pro-am. ”I

just didn’t want to go out and play but I had to. Then when I did,

I played absolutely horrible. Now if I don’t play well, then it’s

not going to get me down.”

He won’t compete in the BMW PGA Championship on May 24, his 30th

birthday. It’s a tournament he’s played every year since 2002.

”I am looking to build back my confidence, and if I manage to

win back my European Tour card, then well and good,” he said. ”If

not, I will stick out here on the Challenge Tour. There’s just not

the intensity or the hype around the main tour.”

Dougherty married former TV presenter Di Stewart in 2010 at St.

Andrews and the couple expects their first child, a boy, in

August.

”I can’t wait to become a father and Di and I are so much

looking forward to the birth,” he said. ”She’s here with me this

week and that’s great.”

Others in the field include former Ryder Cup players Phil Price,

Niclas Fasth, Oliver Wilson and Jarmo Sandelin.

The former Madeira Islands winners who will tee up are Spain’s

Santiago Luna (1995), Sandelin (1996), Fasth (2000), Welshman

Bradley Dredge (2003), Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik (2007) and

Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth (2008).