One of 12 Irishmen in action at Stage Two of the Q-School in Spain, Kelly said: “This is as important as a major for me. This is my grand slam. I have been working towards this for two years and I won’t be happy unless I go all the way. I’ve had fantastic help from Padraig and now it’s up to me to go out there and complete the job.”
Kelly has used Harrington’s swing coach Bob Torrance, putting doctor Paul Hurrion and the technical experts at the Titleist Performance Institute in California to improve his game and step up to the next level.
He will have also have Harrington’s brother Tadhg on his bag as he bids to come through the second stage of the Q-School at Costa Ballena in Cadiz and book his place in next week’s six-round finals.
At least 80 players will progress from the four venues and Kelly reckons he can go all the way after transforming his game over the last two years thanks to the methods that have made Harrington a multiple major winner.
Kelly won the Irish Order of Merit, the Southern Championship and the Irish Club Professional championship last term and backed that up this year by finishing third in the Irish rankings.
He's a new man compared to the player who made the Qualifying finals at San Roque four years ago and missed the 72-hole cut.
"I was like a rabbit in the headlights," Kelly recalled. "I was overawed by the whole occasion and just happy to be there. Now I am a totally different player. There is no comparison."
Kelly is joined at Costa Ballena by Walker Cup amateur Niall Kearney while Ulsterman Eddie Barr, former tour player David Higgins and Challenge Tour trio Michael McGeady, Colm Moriarty and Simon Thornton are in action at Sherry Golf in Jerez.
They are all hoping to join fallen tour star Gary Murphy in next week’s finals at PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona where the top 30 and ties after six rounds will earn cards for the 2010 Race to Dubai.