Niall Kearney’s last taste of team golf came in the Walker Cup on America’s east coast at Merion Golf Club, Pennsylvania in 2009.
Six years later the Royal Dublin pro will again be representing Great Britain & Ireland on US soil but this time in the PGA Cup on the west coast at CordeValle, California, from September 18-20.
Among his opponents in the Walker Cup was world top ten player Rickie Fowler who helped the hosts win and America’s PGA pros will pose a similarly tough test as they bid to maintain their vice like grip on the PGA Cup.
Kearney is set to be a key part of Jon Bevan’s ten-man team which is aiming to create history by winning on US turf for the first time since the club pros’ equivalent of the Ryder Cup was first contested in 1973.
Kearney, who secured his place in the team by winning the PGA Play-Offs last November, is relishing the challenge.
“It is a trip I am really looking forward to,” he said. “We had a get together at The Belfry where I met all the guys on the team that I didn’t know before and there are a great bunch.
“The captain Jon Bevan is a great guy – they laid out the itinerary – it is simply unbelievable – 5-star treatment – and we are so motivated to beat the US team. I’m really looking forward to being involved.”
The PGA Cup wasn’t on Kearney’s list of priorities when he teed up in last year’s PGA Play-Offs but it is filling his thoughts ever more as the date nears.
“The PGA Cup was always in the background a bit, then gradually the paper work started to come through – getting the itinerary and then finally the get together at The Belfry – it is all building up now – it's going to be something special
“The Walker Cup was back in 2009 – so that's a long time ago. I enjoyed the team environment and the different formats. The Irish teams were great – really good times, we gelled really well and had some successful periods as well.”
With GB&I having won just once since 1984, the pressure is on Kearney and his team-mates to regain the magnificent Llandudno Trophy and Bevan has been stoking the fires among his players.
“Jon's motivation is that America don’t want to play it any longer simply because they don’t see it as a contest. That's our motivation – that's all we needed.
“GB&I have been working really hard – they have a great team together, they are giving us the best chance of overturning the Americans.
“The standard of the players competing on the GB&I team is really good, there are some very strong competitors. They are golf guys – comfortable in the environment I really think we can do well and win it.”