Lowry tips Kearney for Irish Amateur Open

Niall Kearney
Irish No 1 Shane Lowry reckons Royal Dublin specialist Niall Kearney can snatch the star-studded Irish Amateur Open on home turf.

The Offaly ace, 21, is one of the favourites to lift the trophy at the famous Dollymount links on Sunday night.

But he sees Royal Dublin hope and Irish team mate Kearney as the man to beat if the weather gets tough.

Set to tee off in the 72-hole strokeplay classic today, Lowry said: "If the weather is bad, I wouldn't look too far past Niall Kearney.

"There is a bit of wind and rain forecast and the tougher the conditions, the better Niall seems to play.

"This is his club and he knows it like the back of his hand. I played the first two rounds with him in horrendous weather in the Lytham Trophy last week and he looked good."

Lowry still finished the best of the Irish at Royal Lytham, snatching third place after a brilliant comeback from early disaster.

Winner of the irish Close, West of Ireland and Sotogrande Cup over the past 12 months, Lowry is riding the crest of a wave.

And he admits that he is more confident and more consistent than ever as he bids for a title previously won by tours stars Padraig Harrington and Louis Oostuizen.

Lowry said: "Winning is never easy but I know that I can do it if I am in the mix when the pressure is on and you are coming down the stretch.

"I am a lot more confident in my game now and I know I can do the job if I play by best golf.

"In Lytham I went out in five over par in the third round but I knew I would still have a chance going into the final day if I could find a few birdies.

"I came home in three under and then finished with a 69. I was only two behind the winner and I even had a couple of three-putts in the last three holes.

"I was still happy to finish third from where I was aver 45 holes and I am a lot more consistent this year and my putting is much bettersince I changed to the cack-handed grip two weeks before the West.

"Still, it is a very strong field and and they are all very good players so anyone can win."

Lowry's goal is to make the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team next year and he knows he has to perform to impress the selectors.

He said: "It's all about sticking around until Sunday in these events and if you are not in the top 10 you don't deserve to make the Walker Cup team.

"It would obviously be great to win my home tournament. It's one I'd love to win and I feel very capable of doing it."

Ireland has 39 entrants in the 120 strong field including Portstewart talent Paul Cutler and fellow internationals Cian Curley, Pat Murray, Paul O'Hanlon and Joe Lyons.

There is a massive, 31-strong French contingent with Scots Kevin McAlpine (+4.9) and Callum Macauley (+4.8) the lowest handicappers in the field.