Kennedy ready to rise to the occasion on European Championship debut

Ronan MacNamara
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Max Kennedy by Carson Racich

Royal Dublin’s Max Kennedy will earn his maiden senior Irish cap on Tuesday when he tees it up in the European Team Championships in Belgium.

Kennedy has had a fantastic season to date, coming second in the South American Amateur Championship in January before winning his maiden collegiate crown in the US and he returned home to capture the Ulster Strokeplay title in Clandeboye last month.

Safe to say he has earned his place on the team having opened 2023 with seven top-10s in a row (including a win) and reached a career high 93rd in the WAGR.

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“Apart from Ecuador at the start of the year this is the first time I’m actually playing for Ireland as a senior on a team so I’m really looking forward to it, we have a great team comradery,” Kennedy says ahead of linking up with Alex Maguire, Liam Nolan, Matthew McClean, Caolan Rafferty and Mark Power at Royal Waterloo Golf Club.

“It’s really nice to be honest. I’ve always thought consistency will always pay off so just keep doing what I’m doing and let it roll. I’m delighted to be part of the team, six man team is the one everyone wants to make every year. This is my first time and there have been some great players that have made this team in the past so to get picked is an honour.”

While it may be his first senior Irish cap, the 21-year-old is no stranger to the team environment having been a star man on Louisville’s golf team this year which earned him a spot on the International team for the recent Arnold Palmer Cup which he feels will benefit him this week.

“I see it all the time in America the more time you spend around each other the more we will bond together and ultimately we will play better because we all want to win and we’ve all become friends so we will fight for each other.

“The more experience you get with these things the more you adapt and get used to it. The more time I spend in a team environment the more I will get used to it and be prepared to win when it comes down to it at the end.”

Kennedy has high standards, as he sits in the classroom at Golf Ireland HQ, donning his new team gear he rates his season only as a seven out of ten. Even during his barnstorming run up to June he admits he was only playing at an 8/10 level and although he has understandably dipped since he is confident he can get back to his best again.

“The first seven or eight tournaments I wasn’t outside the top-10, few top fives and a couple of wins that’s nearly as good as it gets. I’ve struggled a little over the last couple of months to do with the swing and some mental things but I feel like that will only make me stronger if you view it the right way and learn from it and come out the other side even better. I feel my bad golf is getting a lot better which is always nice to see.

“To play good golf all the time just isn’t going to happen and actually knowing that allowed me to play a lot of good golf so that was nice to know at the start of the year. I’m not playing as good as I want to be at the moment but you’re never going to always do that but I’ll just take each day as it comes.”

Alex Maguire seems the most likely of the Irish contingent to play his way onto the GB&I Walker Cup team this September – having been left out of the provisional panel in November – but Kennedy knows a good performance this week at the Euros can add some weight to his already strong case for inclusion.

“Winning as many points as I can for my country is my main goal and see where we can go. At the end of the day you want to win championships and then I’ll try take care of the individual stuff after that! Walker Cup as well is on everyone’s mind, they would be lying if they said otherwise but it’s about managing that and just playing as well as you can.”

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