Kearney content with Qatar opener; relished Sharvin’s company

John Craven

Niall Kearney (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney was pleased with his opening two-under par 70 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters where he has the pleasure of Ardglass pro Cormac Sharvin’s company for the first two days in Doha.

Kearney enjoyed a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th hole to finish with a flourish and turn an average day into a good on his first trip to Doha Golf Club where he trails by six shots going into round two.

“It was a solid start, the course was playing good and tough but I hit the ball pretty solid so I was happy enough,” Kearney said.

“It was nice to finish well. To be honest, the back-nine is a bit more gettable than the front so you sort of have to stock up around the back and you’re more holding on around the front.

“It’s my first time in Qatar but Doha is a nice club. It’s quite rocky and sandy and all that sort of stuff so it can be a little bit frustrating at times if your ball bounces off a rock but it’s all part of it.”

Kearney outscored his Irish playing partner by four strokes on day one but had front row seats to an impressive ball-striking display from Sharvin, with Kearney expecting the 29-year old to kick-on in round two having come out of the opening day with little reward for his play.

“It was great being drawn with Cormac,” Kearney said. “We had a lovely social game. Cormac actually hit it really well too, he finished a couple over but I think he’ll go well tomorrow [Friday] and hopefully we can feed off each other out there.

“It’s been very hot. I was doing a bit of practice after the round and I had to cut it short to be honest because it was proper hot. Friday’s looking windier which will keep the temperature down but it will obviously make the golf a bit more difficult.”

It’s been a stop-start opening to Kearney’s 2022 campaign but after sharpening his tools with a couple of early-season events on the Challenge Tour, the 34-year old signed for a pair of weekend 69s in an encouraging display at the Magical Kenya Open back on the Main tour a fortnight ago.

It was a performance that saw the Dubliner bank €12,337 for his T34 finish, but more importantly it was the first sign that Kearney had found his scoring boots this season and although there’s another break in the schedule to come after Qatar, he’s satisfied with how things are trending.

“Kenya was good but it was nice to get home for a couple of weeks as well,” Kearney added. “The schedule is a little bit scattered at this time of year which is kind of nice in a way. After this week, there’s three weeks off again, then it gets busy. It’s a little stop-start but I’m enjoying it that way at the moment.

“I’m feeling sharper all the time. Playing the Challenge Tour events down in South Africa was a nice way to find my game. I went to Kenya and played reasonably well, did some good practice at home and played decent today as well so it’s been OK.

“It’s a decent start. Hopefully I can keep it going for the week now.”

After this week, Kearney will reappear when the DP World Tour returns to Europe for the 21st of April starting ISPS Handa Championship in Spain.


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