Big test for Kehoe

By Brian Keogh

Short-hitter Justin Kehoe faces one of the longest rounds of his career today - and he's not talking about hours and minutes.

The Offaly ace, 27, is no power hitter in the Angel Cabrera mode and at 7,421-yards, Carnoustie will feel even longer for him after recent torrential rain.

Weighing in a just 11-stone, Kehoe doesn't care as he gets set to pocket the biggest cheque of his stop-star pro career just for teeing it up.

Guaranteed €3,100 even if he finishes last in the 156-man field, he will earn a minimum of €14,000 if he makes the cut.

That won't be easy though and Kehoe is concentrating on hitting the ball as far and straight as he can on a course that features seven par-fours measuring over 450 yards.

After a practice round alongside Aussie Aaron Baddeley, he said: "Personally I find it quite long and relentless. The last five holes are especially demanding.

"This course will test my long game quite a lot. I will be going in with a rescue club, a three-iron or maybe even a three-wood to some of the long par fours.

"On a normal course there might only be one or two holes like that but here there are quite a few of them.

"Depending on the wind, some holes offer a few birdie chances, such as the fourth hole and the par five sixth, which is reachable for me.

"I can also get to the 14th so the course is very difficult but it is not impossible."

The Birr club man hit nine drivers yesterday compared to Padraig Harrington's six and Paul McGinley's eight.

Apart from 499-yard brutes such as the 12th and the 18th, Carnoustie also boasts the 463-yard second, 478-yard ninth, 4660-yard 10th and 461 yard 17th.

And that's before you even start thinking about the 248-yard par-three 16th - which plays into the teeth of the prevailing wind.

Even Badddeley, who won on the PGA Tour this year and led the US Open entering the final round, was amazed how long the course was playing into the wind.

Kehoe said: "I played the last six holes with Aaron Baddeley. Brendan my caddie knows him fairly well. He seems to be a very nice guy,

"He was just saying that the ball is going nowhere into the wind and that the set up of the course is exactly what a links course should be.

"If the weather stays calm, the scoring should be good but if the winds gets up it will be difficult but fair.

"I think there is a little bit of rough out there. To be fair, you have to hit a pretty poor shot to go into it and it is not the nicest stuff in the world."

Sleep has not be a problem so far for the Offaly man but he admits that he will be nervous when he tees it up with Swede Mattias Eliasson and Aussie David Gleeson at 10.59 today.

With his parents Brendan and Carmel looking on, he hopes to acquit himself well on the biggest stage of all.

Smiling, he said: "I've had no problem sleeping at all and I am not too nervous now. But I am sure that later this evening and tomorrow morning I will be nervous.

"I think it was Seve who said, if you are not nervous then you are not interested in the game.

"I want to be nervous because there isn't much pressure on me other than what I put on myself. I will be nervous but happily so.

"My parents are here and three of my sisters are coming over on Friday and there will be quite a few from Birr as well."