Kearney striving to rekindle best form at Headfort

John Craven

Niall Kearney (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Niall Kearney believes his game is close to clicking and he hopes a return to a big, bold golf course like Headfort can prove the catalyst to putting all four rounds together.

Kearney tees up in the Irish Challenge on Thursday off the back of a missed cut last week in Germany but prior to that, the Royal Dublin professional turned in a T26 result in Italy and a T14 finish in France as he edges closer to his best stuff.

“The game is actually pretty good, just not quite putting it all together in tournament time at the moment,” Kearney said on a drive back from the Heritage for a final check-up with coach Eddie Doyle.


“I had a couple of decent results in France and Spain, the course didn’t really suit me last week in Germany – didn’t suit a lot of guys – but it’s been a bit different this year.

“The courses are different to what I played on Main Tour over the last couple of years. Much less drivers, much more positional, tighter and shorter. You could’ve easily played the course last week in Germany without your driver in the bag.

“Headfort is actually an outlier in terms of the Challenge Tour schedule this year. It’s much closer to what a Main Tour course is like and hopefully that will suit me.”

Kearney, alongside Doyle, has been busy familiarising himself with the Kells venue in the hopes of hitting the ground running come Thursday’s opening round.

“It’s a lovely golf course, and just a lovely golf club – absolutely beautiful, a brilliant golf club,” Kearney gushes.

“I’m really looking forward to playing it. The only pity is that the weather’s been so bad that the course is a little bit wet so it’s playing quite long but it’s a great place to play golf.

“It’s going to be a proper test. The rough is lush, so much so you could easily lose a ball five or six yards off the fairway so driving the ball well will be key to a good week.”

Kearney will be eager to make home comforts count to kickstart his season; the Royal Dublin professional finds himself languishing in 103rd spot on the Road to Mallorca where the top-70 retain their Challenge Tour cards at season’s end but more pertinently, the top-20 earn DP World Tour promotion.

Thankfully time is very much on Kearney’s side to start making the right moves up the rankings.

“There’s plenty of tournaments left, we’re probably only at the halfway point,” Kearney says.

“Obviously the focus is Headfort this week and then going to St. Mellion next week for the British Challenge and will take Scotland off.

“Then it’s pretty much a straight run. You could play every week for eight weeks after that if you really wanted to, starting in Finland.

“The ISPS Handa World Invitational is on in Galgorm that same week so I’m going to try and get into that – the points transfer towards Challenge Tour that week too so it would be great to play it.

“So yeah, it’s all go. It’s just a matter of going out there and trying to play well. It would be a great time to play yourself into a run of form and make a move on the Road to Mallorca.”

And if extra incentive to play well in front of home fans was needed, Kearney got it on our phone call, blissfully unaware that the leading Irish player this week – ie, the Christy O’Connor Jnr Trophy winner – will earn an invite into September’s Horizon Irish Open.

“Really? I didn’t even realise that was the case – wow! The low Irish guy gets in? That’s huge, a great opportunity,” Kearney says.

“It’s going to be a great Irish Open, the K Club is special, the field’s already taking shape. I guess that’s just another reason to play well this week.”

Kearney gets his tournament bid underway at 12.30pm Thursday in the company of American Julian Suri and South African Haydn Porteous.


To catch the likes of Niall Kearney in action this week, the good news is that tickets to the Irish Challenge are absolutely free. All you have to do is register HERE

Check out Thursday’s tee-times HERE

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