Irish Amateur Close Champion Peter O'Keeffe returns home to go to work as usual on Monday

“There’s a great buzz to bringing back a national title to your club and your family,” said Peter. 
Irish Amateur Close Champion Peter O'Keeffe returns home to go to work as usual on Monday

Peter O'Keeffe pictured with the Irish Amateur Close Trophy at his golf performance gym in Douglas Golf Club. Picture: Niall O'Shea

IT was a normal Monday morning for Peter O’Keeffe, just after 7am he was back at work at his golf performance gym in Douglas Golf Club. 

He had a guest however, the Irish Amateur Close Trophy was up on the shelf as he took clients through their paces in the online golf fitness class. You wouldn’t have known that O’Keeffe had played 75 holes in the previous three days. 

And he didn’t just play, he won the AIG Irish Close, one of the most prestigious events in the amateur golf calendar. 

A play-off win secured a third national title for the Irish International, and he joined an elite group of Irish men to win the Irish Open and Irish Close titles.

Although he was few hours later than expected, the wait was worth it. 

There was a great welcome from Peter’s family when he did get home on Sunday night with the impressive Irish Close Trophy in hand. And it was welcome that he really appreciated. 

“There’s a great buzz to bringing back a national title to your club and your family,” said Peter. 

“My own family have been a great support and I married into a big sporting family in Cork and they’ve had a big interest in my golf. 

"It was great to come home and be with them over the past 24 hours and enjoy the win with them. It certainly makes it more special.” 

Although it wasn’t his first win, this win was just as big for the 39 year-old in a game that’s increasingly dominated by college golfers. 

With an Irish Open and Close title, his decision to return to amateur golf after a decade as a tour professional has proved to be a wise one.

It wasn’t plain sailing form the 2017 Irish Amateur Open winner. 

Although it was a 72 holes event, O’Keeffe only made the play-off thanks to a 20 foot birdie putt on his last hole. 

O’Keeffe opened with rounds of 70 and 68 to keep in touch with the leaders, but it was his rounds of 68 and 65 on Sunday that really impressed. His birdie on the 72nd hole got him back to within one of the lead and when the on course leader Moran bogied his last hole O’Keeffe was into a three hole play-off. 

Peter has been known to use the word patience when describing his approach to certain events, and patience was key to the play-off. 

The aggregate scoring would prove important, O’Keeffe found himself one behind after Moran birdied the first play-off hole. 

O’Keeffe stuck with his patient routine and when Moran found trouble with trees and water, the Douglas man two ahead after the second hole. Although he found trees on the last hole, a confident chip out onto the fairway got him back on track. 

Moran also missed the green and when the Dubliner could do not better than a five O’Keeffe was crowned the champion.

Going into the final day O’Keeffe knew he was in the running, he was just two off the lead and fancied his chances. 

"I knew I had a chance, I've been playing well. The course suits me. I play the ball high, and with a fade. 

"This course is made for that, I hung in and had a good final round.” 

O’Keeffe has been playing very well, but with an exceptionally high standard at the elite amateur level wins can be hard to find. 

O’Keeffe was a semi-finalist in the North of Ireland a few weeks ago, he reached the final 16 in the South of Ireland at Lahinch and had a top twenty finish in the Mullingar Scratch Trophy.

It’s a third Irish title for O’Keeffe since he returned to the amateur ranks in 2016. 

His Irish Amateur Open win in 2017 was followed by the Irish Mid-Amateur in 2019, and he also won the Munster Strokeplay last year. 

While he has also won a large number of scratch cups in the past four years, championship golf drives O’Keeffe and his season is built around the top six championships each year. 

"My goal every year is to win a title” explained Peter. “If I play well, I feel I can compete. 

"I had a good attitude all week which helps.” 

Despite the close calls and the recent run of good form, O’Keeffe has a huge amount of resilience and self-confidence. 

Reardens general manager John Styles makes a sponsorship presentation to Rainbow Club Cork ahead of their golf classic which takes place in September. Included in the picture are John O'Mahony, John Paul Connor, Maurice MacCarthy and Stephen Scully of Cork City Council.
Reardens general manager John Styles makes a sponsorship presentation to Rainbow Club Cork ahead of their golf classic which takes place in September. Included in the picture are John O'Mahony, John Paul Connor, Maurice MacCarthy and Stephen Scully of Cork City Council.

That played it’s part when he was on the back nine on Sunday afternoon and when the championship went to a play-off.

It’s the first time in 35 years that the winner of the Irish Close has come from Cork. 

As it happens the last Cork winner was also a Douglas golfer, the great John McHenry who won in Royal Dublin in 1986. 

Cork’s Denis O’Sullivan had won it the previous year in Westport. It’s a third Irish title for O’Keeffe. 

In 2017 he won the Irish Amateur Open and in 2019 he won the Irish Mid-Amateur title. 

He’s just the second Cork golfer to win the Open and Close titles, the top two events in Irish Amateur golf. 

Jimmy Bruen is the only other golfer to have won both. Bruen won his Close in 1938, he also won the Open that year to retain his 1937 title.

Douglas President Greg Forde was one of many supporters who were glued to a Twitter live stream from the course in Tullamore for the play-off. “We had great fun watching the play-off on Brian Keogh’s live stream and we were very proud to see Peter come out on top,” said Greg. 

“I think his achievement of winning the Irish Open and the Irish Close is a huge achievement, one that only a few have achieved including Padraig Harrington, Jimmy Bruen and Joe Carr.”

Outside of the win on Sunday, Greg appreciates positive Peter’s influence on the club. 

“Peter is a fantastic role model to have in the club and he does great work with our juveniles and he’s always willing to help every member when it comes to improving their golf. 

"We’re very proud of him, helping to keep the Douglas flag flying on the national stage. We’re very lucky to have such super ladies, gents and juniors, from our team to our internationals Sara and Karl and hopefully Peter will be part of the Home Internationals team.”

Although O’Keeffe wasn’t part of the Irish team for the European’s his win and his recent form makes it highly likely that he’ll make John Carroll’s squad for the Home Internationals in September. 

Meeting Peter on Monday, he was already focused on the next chapter. 

While there no championship golf this week, he mentioned the inter-provincials, the home internationals, the Carey Cup, the Irish Open at the European Club and the Munster Strokeplay which he is set to defend in early October. 

It’s clear he’s hoping the recent run of good form will continue over the next 10 weeks as the extended season comes to a close.

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