Kearney wins IPGA title for second time in record style
Niall Kearney, who was the GB & Ireland hero when holing the winning putt against the USA in the PGA Cup two weeks ago, continued his good form with a successful defence of his LowFuelCard.ie Irish PGA Title at Dundalk yesterday.
Kearney, 27, followed up his Irish title win of 2014 with a record-breaking performance of 22-under-par, finishing with 68.
The previous best in this prestigious championship was 19-under-par set by Simon Thornton at Seapoint in 2011.
Kearney only beat Michael McGeady by a shot last year. This time he took an eight-shot lead into the final round and won by 14 from Clontarf's Eamonn Brady, James Quinlivan (Mullingar) and Richard Kilpatrick of Banbridge.
Brady shot 68, Quinlivan scored 71 and Kilpatrick 74 to finish tied-second on eight-under-par 280, with Headfort pro Brendan McGovern (69) in solo fifth on seven-under.
In doing the double, Kearney joins an illustrious list of back-to-back champions which includes Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Christy O'Connor Senior.
"I see Christy Senior 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 Kearney.
Two weeks ago he sank the key point that gave GB & Ireland their first victory in the PGA Cup on US soil.
This is a Ryder Cup event for club professionals on both sides of the Atlantic and it is fiercely contested.
"I qualified for that through the PGA playoffs last year which were in Turkey. I won that, so that got me on the PGA Cup team, into Wentworth (BMW PGA Championship) and it gets me into the British Masters," said Kearney.
Reflecting on his Irish championship win at Dundalk, Kearney said: "My swing felt good. I felt very comfortable up there. It's quite a tight course and I put myself into good positions off the tee quite a lot and I gave myself plenty of opportunities."
The Dubliner earned his card for the Asian Tour last January and, after playing Woburn this week, the plan is to spent about ten weeks in the Far East.
"Instead of going to European Tour Qualifying School this year I'm going to play the Asian Tour," he said.
"Everything is clashing and I came to the conclusion that I'd earned my Asian Tour card last January, so I might as well use it.
"Basically it's Woburn this week, then fly to Hong Kong for the tournament in Macau on the Asian Tour. I'll play about seven or eight tournaments and it's quite a decent run."