Kearney chasing Irish PGA hat-trick

Niall Kearney. Pic by Fran Caffrey.
Niall Kearney. Pic by Fran Caffrey.

Niall Kearney is chasing a hat-trick of Irish PGA Championship titles this week on the Twin Oaks Championship Course at Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort.

A victory at the North Kildare venue would lift the Dubliner into some exalted company alongside historic figures like Christy O’Connor, Harry Bradshaw and more recently, Padraig Harrington.

“I didn’t want to pass up the chance to defend the title,” said the 28-year-old, who cruised to a record-breaking 14-shot win at Dundalk GC last year. “I was very comfortable on the course last year.

“I like Dundalk and I was on a decent run of form.

“I went out there and I played well and putted well.

“The overriding memory is just being so consistent for four days.

“It was confidence more than anything else.”

Kearney went into last year’s Championship on something of a high after holing the winning putt for GB&I to wrap up an historic first PGA Cup victory on US soil but he admits that he is not in the same frame of mind this time around.

Having failed to retain his Asian Tour card at the end of last year, he has played mainly on the Europro and Challenge Tour this season while trying to bed in some swing changes.

“I’ve been working with John Kelly (St Margaret’s) to try and take things to the next level,” he said. “Change takes time. It’s not big change by any means but when you have been playing one way for so long, a minute change can feel very alien.

“At the moment, I’m probably thinking about my golf swing too much rather than shooting a score but I need to try and get past that now.

“This is a strong part of the year. I have the Irish PGA Championship followed by European Tour Q-School and the Europro Tour finals so it’s not a bad time of the year to be peaking.”

This year, Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort are the new Title Sponsor and Host Venue of the 106th staging of the Irish PGA Championship.