Monday 19 March 2018

New adventure begins for Kelly

John Kelly (St Margaret's) tees off in the 2009 Irish PGA Championship under the watchful eye of Padraig Harrington
John Kelly (St Margaret's) tees off in the 2009 Irish PGA Championship under the watchful eye of Padraig Harrington
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

JOHN KELLY spent years in search of the perfect swing and long-hitting -- but now he reckons that this was the wrong approach to the game.

The 37-year-old 2008 PGA Irish Region No 1 has had his horizons broadened by Padraig Harrington's fitness advisor Dr Liam Hennessy and the Titleist Performance Institute in California.

Now he's on a whole new golfing adventure, as he proved by playing six rounds of competitive golf last week and finishing 17-under-par in total.

Kelly, who operates his Academy at St Margaret's in North County Dublin, did so under the stress of the first stage of European Tour Qualifying School, followed by a two-day Pro-Am at Connemara.

And he revealed that his plan in playing six rounds was based on the requirements of the six-round Final Tour School Qualifying at the end of November.

Kelly, the leading Irishman in the first qualifying stage of the tour School, appreciates that all he has done so far is to qualify for Stage 2 in Spain, but is driving forward with his ambitions of gaining a Tour card.

Should he successfully negotiate Stage 2, then he goes forward to the third and final stage of Tour qualifying at the PGA Golf Catalunya, Girona, Spain.

That's for another day. For now, Kelly can reflect on his performance at The Oxfordshire, finishing third on 12-under 276, playing from Tuesday to Friday.

Kelly then came home to Dublin on Friday evening and had a brief break before travelling to Connemara, arriving at 1.0 on Saturday morning.

He teed it up later that day and shot five-under 67, followed by a level par 72 on Sunday for victory.

"The only disappointing thing was that I didn't break par in that last round, but I was a bit tired at that stage and at least I wasn't over par in any of the six rounds that week," said Kelly.

Harrington played an important role and Kelly was highly appreciative of the generosity shown by the three-time Major champion.

"On the Saturday before PQ1, Padraig spent the afternoon with me at his house and we talked at length about the mental process and how to handle the week. That was huge.

"There was Padraig, getting ready for a huge week at the Tour Championship in America, spending that time helping me. That's typical of the guy," said Kelly.

Whatever about the next stage of Tour school, Kelly knows he is on the right road with his game. He is currently studying Physical Fitness/Sports Conditioning under Dr Hennessy, Harrington and the IRFU's fitness advisor, at Setanta

This, combined with his links with the Titleist Performance Institute, has revolutionised Kelly's approach to golf.

The Institute is dedicated to research and information on swing technique, golf biomechanics and golf health.

"I've worked really hard in the last two years, but on the right things -- fitness, flexibility and a swing technique that stands up to pressure.

"Before that I was obsessed only with technique and I could shoot low scores -- but also high scores. The thing now is to trust all I've done and get mentally right. I was pleased that I could keep my mental focus on each shot last week," he said.

Irish Independent

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