Kennedy’s conundrum: Olympic gold or dance dad?


It took a keen eye to spot him.

Mingling with mothers and fathers brought together from all corners of south-east Queensland, Brad Kennedy was just another dance dad supporting his two daughters in two days of competition on the Sunshine Coast in June last year.

It’s the life he longs for yet right now Kennedy has never featured higher within the ranks of professional golf.

On the back of his second New Zealand Open title on Sunday that was the culmination of a three-week stretch with equal measures of heartache and triumph, Kennedy sits just one place outside the top 100 golfers on the planet.

It’s a career-high position and makes him the seventh-highest ranked Australian in the Official World Golf Rankings – not to mention his ongoing standing as the No.1 Kennedy in men’s golf. (There are six in total.)

It’s enough to reconsider his plans to walk away from pro golf at the end of 2020 and perhaps even stake a claim to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

A regular on the Japan Golf Tour since 2011, Kennedy knows he could be a beneficiary of the coronavirus outbreak concern should the Olympics go ahead in late July.

Fears over what the Zika virus could do the immune system of his wife led Marc Leishman to skip the Rio de Janiero Olympics in 2016 and four years on he and other Aussies prominent in the world rankings will have cause to consider their eligibility.

For Kennedy, it would represent an opportunity as far removed from his own reality as he could have imagined only a month or so ago.

“A few months ago I got an email from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to say I am fourth reserve for the Olympics,” Kennedy explained.

“I thought, I’m 45 – I don’t go to the Olympics.

“Things can change so quickly. With this virus guys will pull out so I may be playing in the Olympics in four months’ time. You just never know in this game and that is why we love it and why it can destroy us.”

At 45 years of age the Gold Coast-based Kennedy knows the cruelty that professional golf can inflict all too well, yet nothing may compare to the emotional roller-coaster he has been riding the past three weeks on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

For 71 holes – which included playing the first 18 in just 61 shots – Kennedy was a class above at the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship when all broke loose.

He was informed of a scoring error while walking down the 18th hole and now needing just a par to win chose to lay up from the trees left of the fairway.

After playing his third to 25 feet from the hole left his first putt three feet short and then missed the next, missing the playoff entirely with a double-bogey six.

He was left to rue a third-round 75 when he missed the Isuzu Queensland Open playoff by two shots a week later and then dusted himself off again for one of the most popular weeks among players all year in Queenstown.

Victor at Clearwater Golf Club in 2011, Kennedy’s final round of 8-under 63 at The Hills on Sunday secured a two-shot win and once again he had his wife and two daughters to thank for it.

“My wife picked me up and just told me to get back out there and keep going,” Kennedy said of his Queensland PGA disappointment.

“I had my wife caddying for me and I had my kids there and I was trying to have a real family experience, plus it would be the last time they would see me play golf there.

“I just want to be home with the kids – stay at home and watch them grow up.

“I was looking to hang the boots up at the end of this year. I’ve been doing it for 25 years and just really wanted to make this year a really positive year to end.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot, but also my family has sacrificed a lot too.

“I’ve been pretty selfish over the last 15, 20 years playing the game and it just feels now is a good time to get back and watch my girls grow up and spend some time at home.

“The oldest is 13 and youngest is eight. To see them grow up through their careers… Money is not an object – I would quite happily sit home and watch them and guide them through their careers.

“I miss a lot of events they are in so as a life experience I would like to go through that.”

Perhaps a chance to represent Australia in a country that has been such a significant part of his professional journey would be a rather fitting finale.


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