Meet the Rookies: Kevin Phelan

12/27/2013 9:13:03 AM
Kevin Phelan   (Getty Images)
Kevin Phelan (Getty Images)

Kevin Phelan has been taking advice from compatriot Padraig Harrington in the early stages of his rapidly-blossoming career, and The European Tour rookie has already shown the kind of potential which suggests he is ready to follow in the footsteps of his three-time Major winning compatriot.

After a stellar amateur career which included a brief stay at the top end of the leaderboard at the 2013 US Open Championship followed closely by an impressive performance at the Walker Cup, Phelan proved his success in the non-paid ranks was not just a flash in the pan when he earned his European Tour card in spectacular fashion at Qualifying School Final Stage.

The Waterford man was inside the cut line for qualification to the top tier of European golf walking down the 18th hole on the final day, but could not afford the kind of slip-up to which so many have succumbed on the intimidating Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort.

He defied any notion of pressure, however, when he fired one of the shots of the tournament, a three iron from 217 yards to just five feet, before holing the putt for birdie and securing his place in The 2014 Race to Dubai.

At just 23 years of age, Phelan is seemingly unfazed by the big occasion and revealed after his Qualifying School success that Harrington had imparted some advice on how to deal with the pressures of turning professional after attracting so much attention as an amateur.

“I have been told a couple of times not to read anything that has been written about me,” said Phelan. “I haven’t done that in a couple of years now so I don’t really pay any attention to expectations that are put on me, just what I put on myself.

“Padraig said it to me a while ago and my coach Mark McCumber tells me all the time. It definitely helped a lot.

“Padraig is definitely a big inspiration for me. I played a practice round with him at the US Open the first time I played it, and at the Irish Open in Killarney and again at Carton House this year. He’s been very nice and very helpful and I've always looked up to him so it’s nice to get some good feedback from him.”

Phelan began his professional career at the 2013 KLM Open, where he made the cut but struggled at the weekend while his first appearance of the 2014 season resulted in a tied 24th finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

After rounding off the Qualifying School with what he described as the best shot of his career, Phelan admitted that he had not yet planned his goals as a professional but was just glad to have reached a target he had been working towards for so long.

“I had been trying not to think about The European Tour all week at Q School, but obviously now I can give it a bit of thought,” he said. “It’s been a goal of mine for a long time, so I’m delighted to have a chance.

“I have no idea what my goals are now. The last few years I have tried to just stay in the process of preparing properly for each tournament instead of having long-term goals, so I will just try and stick to that.

“It feels like it has all come to fruition now because I have played well for most of this year. I made a commitment to be more efficient in my preparation and my practice and spend less time practicing but get more out of it, and I think that definitely helped.”