Chesters edges ahead in Italy with Kearney leading Irish charge

Ralph Casey

Niall Kearney (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Niall Kearney is leading the Irish charge at the Italian Challenge event after day one.

The 35 year-old Dubliner shot a two under 70 to leave him five shots off the pace set by England’s Ashley Chesters, who scored a lone 65.

The best of the rest from the travelling Irish saw Conor Purcell sign for a level par 72.


Ruadhri McGee is outside the cut mark on two over after a 74, with Jonathan Yates and former top tier tour player, Paul Dunne, a shot further back on 75.

Chesters produced a birdie-birdie finish to climb into the lead after day one at the Golf Nazionale course at Viterbo, just outside Rome, in Italy.

The Englishman posted a seven under par round of 65 to set the pace in Rome, one ahead of four-time DP World Tour winner Matteo Manassero, Englishman Will Enefer, Germany’s Marc Hammer and Denmark’s Sebastian Friedrichsen, who share second place.

The 33-year-old was pleased with his strong finish to climb to the top of the leaderboard and believes Golf Nazionale is well-suited to his game due to the conservative strategy required from the tee.

“It was a pretty good today,” he said. “I holed a lovely putt on 17 and made a great up and down on 18 for birdie to take the lead.

“There are a few tricky holes on the front nine where the greens are tiny and then it opens up a bit on the back nine with some larger greens that you can attack. I normally do well around tight courses where you have to keep it in play, and I think that is what it will take to be successful around here this week.”

Chesters, who lost his DP World Tour playing privileges in 2022, is looking to put a tough couple of years behind him and find a greater level of consistency on the Road to Mallorca.

“My golf has been a bit inconsistent over the last couple of years, but I found a good feeling in my swing today,” he said. 

“Hopefully I can keep that going for the rest of the week and take some confidence. I would like to find some consistency and go from there.

“Last week I played well for three rounds and then didn’t finish well. I would like to get back to the place I was in a couple of years ago when I was playing my best golf and hitting fairways and greens in regulation.

“It’s very warm and I don’t deal with the heat that well, so I am looking forward to going out early tomorrow morning.”

Englishman Alex Fitzpatrick, who qualified for The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool through Final Qualifying on Tuesday, sits in fifth place alongside countryman Jonathan Thomson, Denmark’s Nicolai Kristensen and Benjamin Poke, 2013 Challenge Tour Number One Andrea Pavan, Scotsman Euan Walker, Switzerland’s Benjamin Rusch and Spain’s Eduard Rousaud.


Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!

More News

Leave a comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.