Niall Kearney fired a superb course-record seven-under par round of 65 to race to the lead after day one of the European Tour’s Dutch Open.
Looking to break back inside the top-110 on the Race to Dubai standings in order to lock down his main tour card for next season, Kearney did his chances no harm with a brilliant opening effort that included seven birdies and no dropped shots around Bernardus Golf Club.
“I found it really enjoyable,” said Kearney, currently in 128th position on the money-list knowing he has to make every start count from now until the end of the season.
“It’s got a links feel to it. I play links golf at home so I felt right at home. I’ve been at home for the last three weeks so I feel rested somewhat and I really enjoyed it. I had a chip in midway through the back nine – that was a big help – and finished well, a couple under for the last three holes so it was nice to finish that way and especially holing out from 30-feet on 18 to finish.”
Kearney is going about his business perfectly so far this week, setting the bench-mark atop the board at seven-under par. In the back of his mind he’ll know that the bigger picture is the possibility of job security for next season but far from shying away from the challenge, Kearney has the form in the book, not least a tied-4th finish at the Canary Islands Championship, confirmation that he has what it takes to stick around until Sunday evening and contend.
“This year has been positive for me,” Kearney added. “I’ve had a lot of really good finishes and put myself in the right places and I’ve grown in confidence from it. I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable which is great.”
And if Kearney wanted a good omen, the course superintendent at Bernardus happens to be a fellow Irishman, Niall Richardson who was previously involved at Carton House and with whom Kearney caught up with earlier in the week to get the lie of the land.
“I was chatting to him earlier this week,” said Kearney. “He actually grew up not too far from me. The course is fantastic. It’s only three or four years old but it looks like it’s been here fifty years. He’s done a great job. It’s in really good condition. A first class facility and I’m delighted to be here.”
As for the rest of the Irish raiders, Graeme McDowell made a brilliant up and down for birdie at the last to get it in the red at one-under par. Gavin Moynihan had a penultimate hole double-bogey in his even par start. Ardglass pro Cormac Sharvin was at one-over 73 while Mallow pro James Sugrue was one shot worse off after an opening 74.
- Full scoring HERE
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