CHORLEY’S Nick Dougherty believes confidence is the key to regaining the form that shot him towards golfing stardom.

The Shaw Hill professional has endured a difficult year both on and off the course with the death of his mother Ennis last April impacting his form.

After a promising start to 2008, his performances took an understandable dip and he ultimately missed out on making his Ryder Cup debut in Valhalla.

But now, the 26-year-old former Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School student is desperate to find his A-game and re-produce the goods of 2007 when he landed the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

“Technically, physically, mentally, I’m so much better than I was when I had a great year in 2007,” said Dougherty, who heads to Seville next week for the Andalucian Open.

“I’m just waiting for the confidence to click back in for me.

“I really believe it’s going to happen this year. I’m very focused on what I’m doing – it’s only a matter of time (before it comes right).”

Meanwhile, Dougherty has labelled fellow young Briton Rory McIlroy as arguably the best player in the world in Tiger Woods’ absence.

McIlroy has lit up the golfing world in recent months having landed his maiden professional titie at the Dubai Desert Classic and breaking into the world’s top 20.

“He’s an immense talent,” Dougherty said.

“(He had) a great amateur career and over the last six months he’s been arguably, with Tiger out of the game, probably the best in the world.

“However, I just hope – and I’m sure it will because he’s got a good head on young shoulders – that he’s got the right people looking after him.

“He’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing and not get carried away.”