Saturday 21 April 2018

Kearney finds form to roar back into the mix at Q School

Brian Keogh in Girona

A long session on the range followed by an even longer stint in bed helped Niall Kearney roar back into the mix at the European Tour Qualifying School finals in Spain.

The 22-year-old Royal Dublin player was bitterly disappointed after shooting a frost-delayed opening-round 76 at a windy PGA Catalunya Resort to leave him at four-over.

But he was in bed by 9.30 after a two-hour practice session and hit an immaculate, five-under-par 65 on the shorter Tour Course yesterday to jump into a share of 43rd place on one-under-par.

Kearney is now just a stroke outside the top-30 -- who will earn cards after six rounds -- and tied with former Royal County Down assistant Simon Thornton, who hit a 69 at the same course.

"I'm back in it," Kearney said yesterday. "I went to the range for a couple of hours yesterday, hit loads of balls and got my rhythm back. I was out of kilter but it just felt smooth today.

"The 76 was probably caused by lack of concentration and going back out with six holes of my first round still to play. But I got lots of rest and I was fully focused today."


Thornton headed straight for the putting green after holing "nothing at all" in his 69, a score matched by Colm Moriarty, who got back to one-over for the tournament after a testing second round on the Tour Course.

"It was just important to shoot a half-decent round today," Moriarty said. "I didn't want to shoot two or three-over again and go to that tough course tomorrow on the back foot."

The Glasson touring professional is tied for 77th with Belfast's Damian Mooney, who struggled to a three-over-par 75 on the tough Stadium Course after "one of those days".

Germany's Florian Fritsch (25) went 10 strokes better than Mooney as he hit a superb seven-under-par 65 on the Stadium course to lead the the rest of the field by a stroke on eight-under-par. But Martin Kaymer's former amateur team-mate has a huge problem to overcome if he earns his tour card -- he's developed a fear of flying.

"I've not been on a plane since March," said Fritsch. "I drove here from Germany. It took a day, which was not fun, but at least I can get here. I'll not be going anywhere east if I get my card. My primary goal, even if I get a card, will be to get rid of the fear of flying.

"I can enter all the tournaments I want but without being able to fly I can't play. So without taking care of that, a tour card from here is worthless."

Irish Independent

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