Royal Dublin Amateur Max Kennedy is keeping his options open as he weighs up when to turn professional but one of his goals for the season is to have a second crack at the LIV Promotions event.
Kennedy was given an exemption into last December’s LIV Q-School event in Abu Dhabi GC having represented the International side in the Arnold Palmer Cup – and he impressed, progressing through the opening stage before narrowly missing out on the 36-hole shootout.
Entering the final semester of his senior year in Louisville, the 22-year-old is keen to earn another Palmer Cup place to hopefully book a second appearance in the LIV qualifier.
“It’s a huge incentive, I want to get on that Palmer Cup team too so I want to make the team and have another go at the LIV qualifier next year.”
Although he came up short of a potential $250,000 payday in Abu Dhabi last month, Kennedy views it as an invaluable experience, coming away with the knowledge that he can stand alongside the likes of Jason Dufner, Kevin Chappell and Jazz Janewattananond and compete at that level.
“It was an extremely cool experience, going over there and playing on a course I’ve seen on TV for years. So to play that in a tournament setting was class and in a pro event with pros who are household names throughout the years who have won majors and tour events so it was a very cool experience.”
It wasn’t Kennedy’s first experience of a professional event having already played in the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Galgorm Castle last summer following his victory at the Ulster Strokeplay Championship.
“It was different with qualifying rounds every day so it was different compared to Galgorm where there was a 36-hole cut. But the overall feeling wasn’t too different because pro events are different to amateur events with a little bit more seriousness around them because guys are playing for a living so I got that sense in Abu Dhabi so it was a positive experience.
“It was funny, we were having breakfast and up comes Jason Dufner, Kevin Chappell and so many really good players but at the end of the day if you want to play with these guys you better get used to it and I think I did a pretty good job at that.”
The action was live-streamed online and Kennedy was to the fore, fist pumping crucial putts home albeit in vein, as he came up a shot shy of a five-man playoff for the top-20 players to advance.
“I wasn’t that disappointed afterwards because I showed I could compete at that level even though I didn’t play that well on the second day, a few sloppy mistakes cost me on the front nine and I was delighted that after a poor enough round I shot two-under and had a chance of making it through so it showed me that my game is good enough to compete against the best in the world.”
Kennedy joined fellow Palmer Cup teammate Ryan Griffin in the field and was surprised none of Ireland’s four Walker Cup players (Matthew McClean, Mark Power, Liam Nolan, Alex Maguire) took their exemptions into the LIV qualifier after revealing there were no potential DP World Tour or PGA Tour consequences.
“Yeah I was but I can’t make a decision for them but personally it was a very good experience for me and I was always going to give it a go once there were no exceptions to playing on the DP World Tour or PGA Tour in the future I was always going to play.”
The Irish international has plenty of options if and when he turns professional with the PGA Tour University Rankings still on his agenda, knowing status on the Korn Ferry or PGA Tour is achievable via the order of merit.
“That’s definitely still the goal and it’s still on the cards if I play well enough I can get some status over here to play next year and that’s the main goal and see where it brings me.
“I haven’t decided when to turn pro, just need to weigh up my options but focus on playing really good golf for now and see where it takes me. I’m sure turning pro will come about very soon.”
Swedish sensation Ludvig Äberg earned PGA Tour status at the PGA Tour U top ranked player in 2023 and he has risen to prominence, becoming the first player to play in a Ryder Cup before making an appearance in a major championship.
Kennedy played with Äberg in one of his first ever collegiate tournaments as a freshman and he was instantly impressed and continues to be inspired by the youngster.
“I played with Ludvig twice and he’s definitely a very good player. The first time I didn’t know who he was I think I was second in a tournament and he was a couple behind me in one of my first starts in my freshman year then he hit a tee shot and I knew he was pretty good.
“He’s the guy we all want to follow and he has taken one of the best routes to become one of the best in the world so he is definitely an inspiration to all of us college players.”