Kearney gutted to miss Asian Tour card after nightmare finish

Kearney gutted to miss Asian Tour card after nightmare finish
 Niall Kearney had an unfortunate finish at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage. Pictured during the 2013 Irish PGA Championship by Thos Caffrey /  www.golffile.ie

Niall Kearney had an unfortunate finish at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage. Pictured during the 2013 Irish PGA Championship by Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ie

Niall Kearney had his Asian Tour card in the palm of his hand — only to see it slip away in heartbreaking fashion with five dropped shots in his last four holes.

The 25-year old Dubliner started the final day of the Qualifying School four strokes outside the top 40 and ties who are awarded full Asian Tour cards for 2014. Leaderboard

But after racing to the turn in four under 32  at Springfield Royal Country Club with birdies at the 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th, an unfortunate finish left him wondering what might have been

Having started for home with five straight pars, the former Walker Cup player double bogeyed the sixth and then bogeyed his last three holes as he chased his golden ticket, eventually carding a one over 72 to finish tied for 62nd on one-over par.

"It's very disappointing," Kearney said. "My preparation went great and I produced a lot of great play but unfortunately, I've no card to show for it.

"On the sixth I put my tee shot behind a tree, went for the green and put it in a hazard. I chased birdies after that and got too aggressive." 

How many starts Kearney will now get remains to be seen and while his finish will hurt, his performance shows that he still has legitimate reasons to believe that good things may be just around the corner. 

 Japan’s Akinori Tani celebrates his victory. Picture via  AsianTour.com

Japan’s Akinori Tani celebrates his victory. Picture via AsianTour.com

Exactly 40 players finished on four under par or better to earn their playing rights with Japan’s Akinori Tani taking top spot after Lam Chih Bing in Thailand opted not to contest a playoff.

Tani, a two-time winner in Japan, shot a one-under-par 70 but the story of the day belonged to Lam, who closed with a 64 at the Springfield Royal Country Club, the lowest round of the day.

Knowing that he had done enough to earn a Tour card, Lam decided to forfeit the play-off without hitting a single shot as he rushed home to celebrate the birthday of his daughter, who turns two on Sunday.

Lam, who has won once on the Asian Tour, made up for the disappointment of finishing 65th on the 2013 Order of Merit by putting on a scintillating display of golf when shot a bogey-free round highlighted by one eagle and five birdies.

“The goal was to finish inside the top-40 and once I knew that I made it, I had to rush to catch my flight so I can spend time with my family, especially my daughter whose birthday is on Sunday. It really means a lot to me that I have earned him Tour card again, Lam told the Asian Tour website.

“Previously I played through my country exemption category but I will get a better status if I secured a card through Qualifying School That’s why I am here this week,” said Lam, who is the chairman of the Asian Tour Tournament Players Committee.

“Although I have won on the Asian Tour before, it didn’t give me an edge over the rest out here. I think these young guys are fearless and there are many good players but I supposed experience counts as well,” smiled the 37-year-old, whose last appearance in the Qualifying School was in 2005.