Kearney shines on moving day in India

Mark McGowan

Niall Kearney (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Niall Kearney fired a six-under-par 66 in today’s third round at the Challenge Tour’s Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge in Bangalore to move within striking distance.

Starting the day on -5, and six off the lead, Kearney knew he’d need to make an early move if he was to get into serious contention ahead of the final round. And he did just that, birdieing the opening three holes – all par 4s – and added another to make it four of the first five. A two at the par-3 eighth meant he’d make the turn at five-under for the day, and hot on the tails of the leaders.

A par at the tenth was followed by another three birdies in succession, taking him to -13 for the tournament and a share of the lead. Having struggled to close out his rounds on the first two days and dropping shots as he neared home, unfortunately, that trend continued into the weekend, as bogeys at 16 and 18 would drop him back to -11. Despite the disappointing end to the round, the 66 moved him up to tied 6th on the leaderboard, four off the lead, and two behind the leading challengers.


Conor Purcell had matched Kearney in rounds one and two, but he began his round on the back nine and a bogey at the 13th was his only deviation from par, meaning he’d reach the midpoint at -4, and in all likelihood, out of the running.

He’d make his second – and last – bogey of the day at two, but that was sandwiched by birdies at the first and third, and he’d add two more at six and nine to sign for a two-under 70, leaving him tied for 25th at -7.

Dermot McElroy had made the cut on the number, shooting rounds of 71 and 70 respectively on Thursday and Friday, and the steady improvement continued as he’d card a 69 in round three, comprising seven birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey, and the Ballymena man moved up to a tie for 33rd.

Disappointingly, however, Robert Moran’s hopes of a big finish appear to be over after the amateur struggled to a three-over-75, trading two birdies with five bogeys, and this sees him drop back to a tie for 61st at -1.

Lorenzo Scalise is the 54-hole leader, after the Italian’s 65 – the best of the day and the only round lower than Kearney’s – saw him leapfrog 36-hole leader Manuel Elvira and the others who occupied the two final three-ball berths.

The Italian has posted only one bogey in his last 54 holes as he reached 15 under par, two clear of Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, Englishman Ashley Chesters, Spain’s Victor Pastor and Indian Om Prakash Chouhan who share second on 13 under.

The 27-year-old, who currently sits in tenth position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, was pleased with every part of his game on moving day as he climbed into pole position on the leaderboard.

“I’m very pleased today,” he said. “I hit it great off the tee and put myself into some great positions. My putting was very good, and I only left myself short sided once. Hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.

“On 17 I had a gap where I could see part of the green. I had 126 yards to the green and the wind was helping. I had to hit a little draw with my 54 degree wedge to get that extra ten yards. It came out hot and luckily due to the spin it was perfect.”

Kearney will begin round four in the penultimate group and has every chance of starting his Challenge Tour season in style if he can conquer the late-round disappointments that have been the only downside to what has been an otherwise excellent week thus far.


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