Opportunity knocks for Kearney and co as Cazoo Classic kicks off UK swing

Ronan MacNamara

Niall Kearney (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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The Cazoo Classic kicks off the UK swing which served the DP World Tour so well when the season restarted during the 2020 pandemic, affording struggling players much needed opportunities to earn money and Race to Dubai points.

Such was its success, the swing has been maintained and indeed upgraded. 

Hillside Golf Club plays host this week having previously hosted the British Masters in 2019 and Niall Kearney, Paul Dunne, Jonathan Caldwell, Gavin Moynihan, Simon Thornton, David Higgins and Cormac Sharvin all fly the flag this week. 

Robert MacIntyre is the headline act in the field after making the cut at the Open last week. The Scot arrives ready to play for the fourth week in succession. Other notable names are former Ryder Cup player Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Thriston Lawrence who enjoyed a fruitful major championship debut. Callum Hill is unable to defend the title.

Kearney may well have been looking at events north of Hillside at the 150th Open Championship watching David Carey impress at St Andrews. Carey, an Alps Tour regular, has carved out a career on the satellite tours but showed that he is more than comfortable at the top level. 

Carey was eight shots off the lead at the halfway stage at the Old Course before successive 73s over the weekend saw him fade. While he hopes such an occasion can kickstart his career, Kearney is hoping to catch a break and establish himself on the DP World Tour having been unlucky not to retain full playing privileges last term. 

The Dubliner was 8th in the stroke average but failed to earn enough points for a full card this season due to a lack of starts. He is faced with a similar problem this year having made six out of seven cuts on the DP World Tour, including two top-15 finishes in his last five starts he will be making his first appearance in three weeks since the Horizon Irish Open. 

Kearney has also been granted an opportunity to leave his own mark at St Andrews after gaining entry to the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews next week. Two big weeks ahead to push into the top-123 on the Race to Dubai which is the provisional cut off point for card retention. 

“I just have to keep going, once I get the starts just play the same way and see if I can get myself up the Race to Dubai rankings,” said Kearney ranked 161st in the Race to Dubai. 

“Keep working on weakness and practicing with my coaching team and then it’s just about getting the starts. After playing so well last year that’s a little bit annoying. So hopefully get another seven or eight starts and hopefully make the most of it.” 

Cormac Sharvin is also making his first start since missing the cut at the Irish Open. The Ardglass native played in the recent K Club Pro-Am to try and maintain some competitive edge heading into a busy few weeks. 

The 29-year-old tees off in the opening group at 9 am alongside David Howell and Andrew Wilson. 

Greystones native Dunne is also among the early starters alongside Anton Karlsson and Pep Angles. The 2017 British Masters winner is yet to find his form since returning from two years of injury struggles and has missed his last five cuts on both the DP World and Challenge Tours. 

Caldwell arrives off the back of a hat trick of missed cuts while the Island’s Moynihan tees off alongside Kearney and returns following a withdrawal at the Italian Challenge at the start of the month. 

Simon Thornton and David Higgins are both back in the ring courtesy of where they finished in the PGA Playoffs at Slieve Russell earlier this year. 

Both players are in bonus territory and will miss the Irish Life Delgany Pro-Am while Thornton is listed as an entrant for Sunday’s Elm Park Pro-Am. 

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