Sport Golf

Thursday 18 January 2018

Aggression paying off for Tour hopeful Kilpatrick

Richard Kilpatrick
Richard Kilpatrick

Brian Keogh

Richard Kilpatrick has the bit between his teeth after an opening 67 put him in the mix in the Volopa Irish Challenge.

The Banbridge man (33) has been a professional for seven years and while he’s dividing his time between the horses and cows on his parents’ farm, the third-tier Europro Tour and the PGA Irish circuit, he’s hoping to grab his chance with both hands in this Challenge Tour event at Mount Wolseley this week and gallop to victory.

In a four-way tie for second, two shots behind leader Robert Coles of England, the former East of Ireland winner refuses to give up on his Tour dream despite years of struggles.

“The Europro depressed me a wee bit last year,” said Kilpatrick, who is through to next month’s second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School. “Finishing seventh in a field of 120 and clearing a hundred quid is hard to take.

“But I believe I am still good enough to make it and I still enjoy it so I am playing just the Europro events I like this year and the big Pro-Ams on the Irish circuit.

“I have joined the PGA so I can start my PGA qualifications at Banbridge next year and fast-track it over two years because I have a degree.

“A week like this is win or bust for me so I will be more aggressive than the other guys and see what happens. And I love the course – I was seventh here when they had the Europro Tour event last year.”

Leader Coles (43), who won the last edition of the Irish Challenge held at Moyvalley six years ago, made eight birdies in a seven-under 65 to lead by two strokes from Kilpatrick, Welshman Stuart Manley, British Amateur champion Romain Langasque of France and American Daniel Im.

Rory McNamara, Simon Thornton, Alan Dunbar, Michael McGeady and Walker Cup player Gavin Moynihan signed for three-under 69s worth a share of 16th and Chris Selfridge and Ruaidhri McGee posted 70s, but Walker Cup players Jack Hume, Cormac Sharvin and Gary Hurley all had mixed days.

Amateurs Hume (72) and Sharvin (75) are not under pressure to perform but Maynooth University’s Gary Hurley simply ran out of gas after his professional debut in the Alfred Dunhill Links last week and posted a seven-over 79.

As for leader Coles, he reckons his good form in Ireland might have something to do with his Irish roots.

“My mother is from Cork and I have a Corkman caddying for me this week,” he said with a grin. “I am quite proud of my Irish roots. My mum lives in west Cork and all of my in-laws are Irish. “And I’m married to a girl called Sinéad too so there’s a strong connection there. I am proud of that!”

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