Niall Kearney cruises to emphatic triumph at Irish PGA Championship

Niall Kearney with the winning trophy
Niall Kearney with the winning trophy
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Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin GC) cruised to a emphatic record-breaking 14-shot victory at the LowFuelCard.ie Irish PGA Championship on Sunday.

The 27-year-old took charge of proceedings on Thursday with an opening round of seven under par 65 and followed up with rounds of 66, 67 and 68.

His 22-under par total at Dundalk GC beat the 19-under-par mark set by Simon Thornton (Royal County Down) in 2011 at Seapoint GC and saw him join an illustrious list of back-to-back champions that includes Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Christy O’Connor Snr.

“I see Christy Snr around Royal Dublin the odd time and it’s good to have matched something he has done but I’ve some way to go to equal his record of 10 Irish PGA titles,” said Niall who flies out to England tomorrow to play in the British Masters at Woburn.

“It was just one of those weeks, it was one of those courses that suited my eye. I felt comfortable here right from the start of the week and that was reflected in the scoring.”

The trio of Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge), Eamonn Brady (Clontarf) and James Quinlivan (Mullingar) shared second place on eight under par with Brendan McGovern (Headfort) alone in fifth on seven under par.

Niall started the final day with an eight-shot lead over nearest rival Kilpatrick with Colm Moriarty a shot further back on nine-under. He dropped only his second shot of the tournament at the par four third but far from causing a wobble, he bounced back with a birdie at the next and a second birdie of the day at the sixth saw him reach the turn in one under par.

In contrast, Kilpatrick and Moriarty both struggled over the opening nine holes and as they turned for home, Niall had extended his lead to 11 shots, effectively ending any hopes of being overhauled.

He continued to make smooth progress over his closing nine holes, grabbing birdies at the 12th, 14th and 18th as he came home in three under 33.

“I was one over through three, it was blustery, windy and cold and not very pleasant,” added Niall.

“I had to really concentrate because I knew we were coming towards a stretch of holes that Richard or Colm or in fact, anyone in the field could have got hot so I couldn’t afford to take my eye off the ball.

“Then we got into the back nine, Colm and Richard weren’t really making a move. I was playing pretty steadily so I felt more comfortable with my situation which gave me the chance to relax a bit and try and enjoy it over the closing holes.”

LowFuelCard.ie Irish PGA Championship Sponsored by LowFuelCard.ie

At Dundalk Golf Club

Leading scores

1 N Kearney 65/66/67/68 – 266 (-22)

T2 E Brady 65/76/69/70 – 280 (-8)

T2 J Quinlivan 66/75/68/71 – 280 (-8)

T2 R Kilpatrick 70/69/67/74 – 280 (-8)

5 B McGovern 72/74/66/69 – 281 (-7)

T6 S Thornton 70/71/69/73 – 283 (-5)

T6 C Moriarty 67/72/68/76 – 283 (-5)

8 M Staunton 70/73/69/72 – 284 (-4)

T9 J Dwyer; D Ryan; D Gleeson; D Mooney; D Beattie 285 (-3)