Kehoe has point to prove

By Brian Keogh

Cinderella man Justin Kehoe wants to prove his critics wrong and triumph as a pro.

And he's got plenty to inspire him at Carnoustie this week with namesake Justin Rose a major role model and Jose Maria Olazabal's caddie on the bag.

With earnings of just €10,000 from three years in the pro ranks, Offaly man Kehoe has heard people laughing behind his back.

But looks at PGA Tour ace Rose as an ideal role model after watching the Englishman miss 22 cuts in a row before finally making the grade.

He said: "I’m convinced I can play the game for a living and make a good living at it.

"I can take inspiration from anywhere and Justin's is an incredible story of extreme failure at the start of his career to great success and probably more and greater success to come.

"It is stories like that inspire me, because you take an awful lot of criticism, an awful lot of flak and you endure a lot of disappointment.

"And for someone like that to keep coming back is a testament to his character."

At 27, Kehoe is just a few months older that tour millionaire Rose.

But he's human too and admits that he's been affected by the wounding words of criticism from people who believe he'll never make the grade.

He said: "You hear the odd comment around, it all comes back to you. I shouldn’t have said that now really. But you might pick up stuff and maybe gets into your own head that people might say that.

"To be here with Tiger and Ernie and the rest is unbelievable, it really is. I mean, it is unbelievable. I arrived in yesterday with my parents and the first person I sawn on 18 was Tiger woods just after finishing his round.

"It is the deep end, it is the Open. It is magnificent, but it is also a great opportunity to learn as well, to see what a major championship is set up for.

"I have to enjoy it and soak it all up. At the end of the day it is yourself, your clubs and the golf course."

Kehoe will also have Olazabal's former caddie Brendan McCartan on the bag.

An Englishman with Mayo born parents, he caddied for the Spanish ace for three years including his 1999 triumph at Augusta.

He added: "Brendan knows his way around and I'll just try to keep my feet on the ground and get around this course in as few shots as possible. If I can stick to a gameplan and execute it as well as I can, I will be happy."