Golfer, Niall Kearney's blog

Hi, Niall Kearney here. 

As an ambassador for Grant Thornton I would like to introduce myself.

I am a member this year of the European Challenge Tour and I also hold a category on the main European Tour.

I will be competing this year in approximately twenty five events right across the world and I would like to share my experiences and hopefully successes with you all. 

As this is really my first year on tour I will be visiting these venues for the first time which will be exciting. I travel first to India and then on to Columbia where I will have a chance of getting into a main tour event in Sicily and from there I will travel to Kenya for the Barclays Kenya Open.

I will report my experiences with these events as we progress through the season. If you have any queries then feel free to email me and I will endeavour to answer any questions.

Until next time, good golfing.

Niall

 

Onwards and Upwards!!

Hi All,

My 2013 season has now come to an end and this gives me the opportunity to look back at the progress that was made and to thank the people who helped make it possible.

My challenge Tour season was very consistent although I only managed 9 events. I got off to a sluggish start in Kenya back in February but got motoring then and made the last 7 cuts in a row which was satisfying and put me inside the top 120 on the order of merit which gives me status for 2014. My Challenge Tour stroke average has gone from 74.90 back in 2010 to 70.69 in 2013. It is great to see progress being made year on year and proves that the work I’m doing with my coaches is productive and worthwhile. The change of swing coach to John Kelly early this year proved to be a great success. I’m swinging better than ever and I feel the consistent results are a by-product of the work he has done with me.

With that run of consistent performances this year I felt confident about returning to Qualifying school for the 5th time and going all the way to the European Tour. My first stage got underway in Germany in mid September; I played great golf and qualified with ease on a score of -11. I then moved on to Los Colinas in Spain for 2nd stage in early November and finished on a score of 2 for the 4 rounds and outside the qualification mark. I was devastated as I was playing lovely golf but just not scoring well enough for it to count. Onwards and Upwards!!

My current plans include Asian Qualifying School, which takes place in Thailand in late Jan 2014. I will be travelling out there in early Dec to prepare and get myself ready for the competition. I have played in Asia many times before and it is very challenging in terms of the way the courses are set up, the different grasses and the soaring temperatures.

As this will be my final blog of 2013 I would like to thank my sponsors for giving me the opportunity to chase my dreams. They include the Irish Sports Council, Grant Thornton, The Royal Dublin Golf Club, Medfit and Taylormade/Adidas.

I wish you all a happy festive season,

Till nxt year……………..

NK

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A good season

Hi Folks,
It has been a very positive season so far for me. I have played many times on the Challenge Tour, making the last 6 cuts in a row and beginning to compete for the titles much more often than previous years. I believe the technical work I am doing with my coach John Kelly has been very productive and continues to deliver results at the highest level. There is no doubt that boxes still need to be ticked in terms of my technique and power etc. but the foundations are now in place.

My last few weeks around Europe have been very enjoyable and I was fortunate enough to visit beautiful countries including Czech Republic, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Italy, France and Norway.

I have just returned home from Oslo where the Norwegian Challenge took place. A very expensive part of the world to say the least but stunning scenery and friendly people. It was my 7th week to compete out of 10 and I’m feeling pretty sluggish..!!!  I’m very much looking forward to 2 weeks at home now to recharge and prepare for a busy end of season schedule.

Looking back over the last number of tournaments I would have to say that my weekend performances have let me down somewhat. I’m currently averaging level par for my Sat and Sun rounds which only means one thing on the Challenge tour, a sharp fall down the leaderboard. I believe it’s only a matter of time before I start converting my opportunities over the weekends into great finishes.

My next event is the Northern Irish Challenge, which is being held at Galgorm Castle golf club in Ballymena from the 29th-1st Sep. From what I have heard the organisers and sponsors are putting a huge effort into making the event a success and I really hope it is. I plan on visiting the course a couple of times before the tournament begins to map it out and give myself the best chance of doing well.

It’s not long now before the European Tour Qualifying School circus begins once again. I am hoping to go one step further this year and gain my full tour card. It is an interesting few weeks where triumph is mixed with tragedy and only the fittest survive..!

Keep swinging.!

N

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Life on tour

Hi all,

I am looking forward to another exciting season on the fairways of the world. Much has happened over the last few months and I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the changes I have made and experiences I have had.

I spent the month of December 2012 in Thailand preparing for Asian Qualifying School, which took place in January 2013. Asia is a part of the world I love travelling to. Always great golf, food and a welcome smile. From a golfing perspective, Asia presents a whole different set of challenges compared to Europe. The incredible heat can be unbearable at times and gripping a club can be a challenge, the grass on the courses are totally different to the western world and require a different technique. Trying to keep control of your hydration levels etc is a real challenge with headaches and lack of focus on the course not uncommon.

Preparation went well and made it all the way to the final round in final stage to narrowly miss out on my card by 3 shots. I was very disappointed at the time but now that some months have passed and the fact that I will still play some tournaments in that part of the world this year meant it wasn’t all bad.

I returned home in early Feb and put a practice plan in place to see me through to the start of the season. After much thought I decided to change my coach and started working with John Kelly from St Margrets late Feb. We have met up once a week since and are making steady progress from a technical point of view. John is trying to incorporate some more power and consistency into my game which has been great on the range and on camera but haven’t quite managed to bring it to the course yet.

My schedule for the 2013 season is an interesting one to say the least. I plan on playing 25-30 events in total and those will be spread out between the Challenge Tour, Asian Tour and the Europro Tour. My season will see me visit some interesting destinations including Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic to name but a few.

I have been fortunate enough over the last 2 years to gain entry into the Irish Open with the help of the Irish sports Council. I would obviously love to play in my national open again this June and compare myself to the best players in Europe but an invite could be hard to come by so Ill just have to sit tight and see what happens.

At the time of writing, I am currently at home for a week in between 2 Europro Tour events. I have a fairly intense practice week planned, which will include a visit to John Kelly. When I am at home I generally spend my days at The Royal Dublin Golf Club hitting balls and working on my short game for the upcoming tournaments.

Lets hope the weather behaves and we can all get into the swing of the golf season,

Till next time………………….

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African and European tours

What an interesting season it has been!! I have not played as much Challenge Tour events as I would have liked but that’s just the way the season worked out and not having full status really went against me. Having said that, I have really enjoyed the few that I have played and played really well on a couple of occasions.

The season started off in usual fashion with trips to Colombia and Nairobi, Kenya. I played average golf and missed out on the weekend on both occasions. My good Irish friend Rina Hanrahan, who lives in Nairobi kindly, gave me a bed again and her hospitality this year included a trip to Nairobi national park, an amazing experience.

My season continued from there and included trips to France, Spain, Austria and Norway to name but a few. I really felt as though my game was progressing nicely even though my early season performances didn’t produce much in the way of results. I remained committed to my routines and practice schedules believing that the performances would look after themselves.

In order to fill a full schedule for myself this year I have mixed my challenge tour travels with some tournaments on the Irish region circuit. The Irish region tournaments consist mainly of pro-ams and some pro only tournaments. I must say that I have really enjoyed competing on the region and have had the opportunity to meet great people in a pro-am environment. It has also benefited my game hugely with the competition being stiff and the courses set up for low scoring. I look forward to competing in the Irish PGA Championship, which is the regions flagship event. It will be held in Mount Juliet from 11-14 October.

I have just arrived home from Germany where I competed in the 1st stage of European Tour Qualifying School. It is always a very important time of year and producing good solid golf under pressure is a must! I went there with plenty of confidence having played well in Norway a few weeks ago and had also being playing solid on the Irish region. The format for the week is like this; approximately 100 guys tee it up for 25 qualifying spots. I am delighted to announce that I did qualify for the next stage but the week wasn’t without its stresses!! I found myself hovering around the 25th mark most of the week but played a lovely round of 69 on the final day to cruise in which was very satisfying!

The next stage takes place in Spain in early November so it’s a case of staying fresh and fit for the next 4/5 weeks and be ready to go when the time comes. I have not decided what my schedule will be for the month of October yet but it will consist of gym work/yoga, lessons from my coach Johnny Foster and some tournament play to keep me sharp!

Till next time.........

 

 

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The European and Asian Tour Schools

Well it has certainly been an interesting couple of months out on the fairways. European Tour Q School took place in mid- December and I went there with high hopes and expected success. This was my third trip back to the battleground! My preparation for the event was quite intense but very enjoyable at the same time. I got myself into great physical condition with the help of my friends over at Medfit in Blackrock. I felt invincible and was raring to go!

With all this great preparation, what could possibly prevent me from achieving success. Oh yeah, the crazy game of golf!!! I finished up on even par for the 4 rounds and missed out on qualification for final stage by 3 strokes. What a bummer! I was hugely disappointed afterwards but wasn’t long before I got myself back in gear and signed up for my next challenge. Asian tour school!

I left Dublin bound for Bangkok on the 20th of December and was really looking forward to playing golf in a t-shirt again. I had holidayed in Thailand many times before but knew that this particular mission was going to be far from a holiday! The school consisted of 2 stages, first and final with the goal being to qualify out of first stage and then finish in the top 40 of final stage to win your card for the 2012 season.

My preparation was again very enjoyable and quite interesting. The melting heat was certainly a challenge and made it difficult to keep the concentration during practice. My hands were pouring with sweat and ended up using gloves that you would normally use in the rain to try and get some grip on the club.

By the time first stage came along I was well acclimatized and ready to compete with the Asian stars. I had a fantastic caddy whose name was Won Pen and she guided me around and kept me out of trouble most of the time! We did great in first stage finishing in 3rd place with a 10 under par total. Confidence high and just dying for final stage to start now. Played lovely once again for all 4 rounds but held nothing on the greens which was frustrating. Ended up shooting 4 rounds of level par 72 to miss my card by 3 strokes.

So its back to the challenge tour for me this year. A good looking schedule with more events than last year and some interesting destinations. Looking forward to getting back out there and competing.

Till next time………

 

 

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Onwards and upwards

Hi Folks, Just taken off from Dublin on my final 3-week swing of the Challenge Tour schedule for 2011. The destinations include Tenerife, Lyon and then on to Rome for the last one.

My season so far has been disappointing but have learned so much in my first year out here on the Challenge Tour. I have played over 20 tournaments so far this year which is a bit much and is something I will address going forward. Very important to give myself some more time to practice and rest rather than just playing. Watching guys that have been out here for a few years, they are very wise about how they schedule themselves and keep themselves fresh for the whole season.

That being said im feeling confident about the remainder of the season and expect good results from myself. Been working very hard and doing all the right things so just need it all to click now..

I recently returned from a 2-week swing in Kazakhstan and Russia. A great experience to visit both these places for the first time. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by Kazakhstan. The tournament was held in the city of Almaty. A fantastic, tight, old style golf course. Played nicely all 4 rounds but my strategy was maybe a bit too conservative which left me with loads of pars and not enough birdies.

From Almaty to Moscow I went. I was situated on the outskirts of Moscow which was a very strange experience. The official hotel was in the middle of nowhere and about 30 mins from the golf club. Felt like a prisoner for a week! Another fantastic course, very modern with great features. I unfortunately made too many mistakes and missed the cut by 2 shots.

The race was now on to get home to Dublin for a couple of days before heading off again. Managed to get a flight leaving early Sat morning. Taxi booked for 1am. 3 hour trek through Moscow in what felt like a golf buggy! Flew Moscow to Heathrow and then waited 7 hours for my connection to Dublin. The joys of travel! Wasn’t all that bad as I got to see Ireland beating Australia in the rugby world cup.

I played really good golf last week in Toulouse but didn’t score as well as I should have. I set out a very aggressive game plan for the week which included hitting lots of drivers and attacking almost every pin.  It is fun being in that fearless state of mind but it didn’t quite work for me over the weekend. On a positive note I hit the ball really well which is a good sign heading into the final few weeks.

Onwards and Upwards

 

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St Omer Open, France - June

I am currently in France playing in the St Omer open. I have had a hard stretch in the last few weeks because I have missed some cuts. My game is in great shape and I am playing well. I have just thrown in some destructive shots at the wrong times and I am learning how expensive that can be on my score card. More importantly, I am learning the way of life on tour. Time management is very important and it takes some time to get used to it. There is a saying out here that a golfer makes his money three weeks of the year.

Having said that, I am getting more comfortable every week. Today I had my Dad on the bag and we were happy to finish round one on one under par on a difficult windy course. This is a European Tour event and I hope to finish well this week. I am off next week and then it is on to Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and England. I will keep you updated.

Thanks for all the support.

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Paris - 5-8 May

After the early season long haul events I was all set for the European swing which began in Paris. The event was being played at Eurodisney resort.

My Uncle Eamon came over to caddy for me which was great as I enjoy his company on the bag. We decided to rent a house for the week beside the golf course. This worked out great as it meant we could prepare our own meals and make sandwiches for the course etc.

I enjoyed playing the course. It was very tricky and you had to hit good shots to be rewarded. The scoring was very good during the week and the cut after 2 rounds was 2 under par.

I practiced hard during my time off after Kenya and my swing felt as good as ever. I was getting a little frustrated as I felt as though I was playing better than my score would suggest. I remained patient and had a decent weekend.

I have friends that live in Paris and they came out to support me during the week which was nice and gave me a bit of a boost.

Again I finished inside the top 30 for the week.

I feel my game is good enough now to be contending for these tournaments as I look forward to the rest of the season.

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Kenya - 31 Mar-3 Apr

2011 was my second year to play the Kenya open. It was an event I was looking forward to ever since the schedule came out.

A friend of mine, Rina Hanrahan who is from Ireland and now lives just outside Nairobi in Kenya, gives me a bed for the week in her house and looks after me extremely well. Rina is great company and cooks meals that I would be familiar with which gave me peace of mind.

I can honestly say that I have never played golf in such hot and sticky conditions that I have experienced in Kenya over the last couple of years. I was drinking a bottle of water per hole and was still finding it difficult to keep my concentration and stay focused.

Again, my game was solid all week and a birdie-eagle finish on Sunday put a smile on my face.

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Colombia - 10-13 Mar

My second tournament of the 2011 season took place in Medellin Colombia. I was a bit apprehensive about the trip as I heard reports of it being a dangerous place etc.

My journey over took me to Heathrow, then to Miami and finally down to Medellin. It was a very long trip with alot of flying hours which had an effect on the body and the mind.

I made a big mistake of not withdrawing American dollars in Miami and ended up using the local pesos in Colombia. A difficult currency to figure out as it came in hundreds of thousands.(rookie error).

I was surprised at how beautiful the place was after the reports I had heard. The golf course was old fashioned, very tight with tiny greens. I picked up a local caddy on site which worked out great, he spoke no English which suited me and kept the bag stocked with drinks and food.

After plenty of rest and few hours practice early in the week I was ready to get going. My game was good and ended up in around 30th place for the week which was satisfactory.

After the week I analysed how I had played, learned from my mistakes and planned for my next event which is held in Kenya in March.

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