Niall Kearney is determined to keep riding the wave of his recent good form into Mount Juliet Estate this week for the €3million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The Royal Dublin professional produced another stellar performance at last week’s BMW International Open where he held the halfway lead before claiming a tie for 12th at 12-under par in Germany. Kearney banked €23,394 for the effort but more importantly, jumped 15 places on the Race to Dubai standings to 118th with the top-110 at season’s end earning their Tour card for next year.
“Yeah, it was another solid week – progress,” Kearney told the Irish Golfer podcast. “I played very well Thursday and Friday – got myself into a really nice spot, final group on Saturday which was great, a great experience, and all that goes with that with cameras etc.
“The weekend was obviously a little bit slower but overall I probably would’ve taken 12th place if you offered it to me on the Wednesday.”
It was a performance that’s seen Kearney’s season earnings rise to €94,565 with a best of fourth place finish at the Canary Islands Championship. Given he began the year expecting to compete largely on the European Challenge Tour, it’s been a year of opportunity for the Dubliner and one he’s grabbed with both hands. This week, opportunity knocks once more, back on home soil for an Irish Open at Mount Juliet with increased ranking points dangling tantalisingly within his reach.
“Irish Opens are always something to get excited about but this is obviously a big event as part of my campaign because it’s got double points to what I’ve been playing for,” Kearney said.
“I’ll be just sticking to my process. Body’s a little bit tired today [Monday] so I’m taking a day off, going to the gym, getting plenty of food in and will start again on Tuesday morning.
“I played here, probably eight or ten years ago in an Irish Championship and that’s the only competitive golf I’ve had around here. I came down last week just to have a game and get a feel for the course again. It’s a magic place, just a lovely estate to be strolling around and basing yourself for any week, it’s lovely.”
Kearney was the only full Irish member of the European Tour overlooked for an invite to the Irish Open last year at Galgorm but his play of this term has been impossible to ignore; a run of form he’ll be determined to extend in front of 5,000 spectators a day in Kilkenny, knowing that his status won’t be enough to secure him such golden tickets from here on out.
“It’s tricky – it’s hard to get into any tournament unless you’re in off your own status,” Kearney acknowledged. “You’re always looking for favours and all that sort of stuff so yeah, it’s obviously great to get the opportunity this year based off the fact I’ve had a decent start and I’m chasing the Tour card. It would’ve been very disappointing not to have been here this week.”