Open and Closed golfing season for the sensational Peter O'Keeffe

 It has been a pretty special few months for Peter, winning three championships and being the first golfer since Padraig Harrington in 1995 to win the Irish double of the Irish Close and the Irish Open
Open and Closed golfing season for the sensational Peter O'Keeffe

Peter O'Keeffe back at work in his gym on Monday with the Irish Amateur Close and Irish Amateur Open cups. Picture: Niall O'Shea

“THIS is the best, this is definitely my best performance as a golfer.” 

That was Peter O’Keeffe’s reaction after winning the Flogas Irish Amateur Open last weekend. 

O’Keeffe brought his golfing season to a close on Sunday with a super win at Ireland’s most prestigious championship. 

 It has been a pretty special few months for Peter, winning three championships and being the first golfer since Padraig Harrington in 1995 to win the Irish double of the Irish Close and the Irish Open. 

And in between both majors he also retained his Munster Stroke Play championship and helped Ireland to win the home internationals.

Needless to say Peter was delighted with his win especially as he had targeted the Open which was played at The European Club. 

“I’m delighted, it’ll take some time to reflect on this one,” said O’Keeffe on Sunday. 

“I’m not the best at celebrating but this one is special. It was my first big in [in 2017], and when I won the Close I set my mind to win the Irish Amateur straight away. 

"Saying it is one thing but doing it is superb so I’m delighted.”

Just like his win at the Irish Close in Tullamore, there was a bit of drama as the tournament went to a playoff. 

But before the playoff there was an equally tense finish as Peter had to make a par from heavy rough on the final hole. 

An excellent chip from the heavy greenside rough was followed by an equally impressive 20 foot putt to force a three-hole playoff. 

Peter O'Keeffe, Flogas Irish Open 2021 champion
Peter O'Keeffe, Flogas Irish Open 2021 champion

Peter went one ahead on the first hole and maintained that lead to win his second Flogas Irish Amateur Open title.

Anyone who knows Peter will be familiar with his impressive work ethic, and he has spent close to two years on his strength and fitness, his mental approach and his golf swing. 

Similar to his win in Cork just a few weeks ago Peter was eager to credit his coach Noel Fox. 

“A massive part of this has to go down to the support and help Noel gives me. I lean on that guy so much and he gives me all his knowledge which is never ending and abundant. 

"He’s also won the Irish Amateur twice so I’m delighted to be in his company. 

"I wouldn't be performing like I am without his support and help over the last couple of years, it’s a massive credit to him.”

The 39 year old has been competitive since the season opened in June. 

He had a good start to the season with good performances in the North and the South, but didn’t manage to get the win. 

That all changed in August and he’s had four big wins in just nine weeks. 

“I’ve never hit the ball as well and I’ve probably in the best shape I’ve been in. My fitness combined with technical improvements, it's all just gone up a level. 

"It wasn’t as windy as I would have liked but still there was enough wind there. The windier that better, the better the ball flight the better the wind is, it just rewards good shots. 

"The birdie on 15 was huge and I didn’t mind the bogey on 16 too much, I knew I still in it coming down that last two holes.”

The European Club proved to be just as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. 

Deep bunkers, heavier rough and changing terrain meant high numbers could happen very quickly. 

 Muster Stroke Play winner Peter O'Keeffe pictured with his wife Mary-Claire and kids Alice and Billy after his win in Cork Golf Club.
Muster Stroke Play winner Peter O'Keeffe pictured with his wife Mary-Claire and kids Alice and Billy after his win in Cork Golf Club.

And it happened Peter at the end of his first round on Friday when after playing steadily for 16 holes, he dropped three shots on the last two holes. Just like his performance at the Irish close, Peter put the error behind him and he went out for a second round on Saturday morning with a clear head. 

His mental approach is one of the key areas that has improved in the past two years and Peter describes it as acceptance. He knew going to the European Club would be challenging and knew the course had a fierce reputation. 

“I think people criticize it because it beats them up and yes it's severe but again you just have to come to a golf course like this with acceptance. I've seen a lot of players not having accepted at all. 

"It’s almost like a mini tour school in a way, the field condenses every couple of hours and if you're still in it and if you're in the race you can just keep going to press on.”

O’Keeffe turns 40 next month, and despite the surge of talented teenagers and college golfers coming through, the former tour pro is proud of the fact that he can still win at elite amateur level. 

“I suppose what I have on them is a lot of experiences, negative and positive so my attitude now is far different from when I was a professional. I won’t say the game is a lot easier to me but I’m certainly not getting as upset I used to and that’s helping a lot. 

"This is the best, this is definitely my best performance as a golfer. I tested myself as far as I could go and came out on top.”

Although he was back in the gym early on Monday morning, you get the feeling that Peter will enjoy this win. 

Coming at the end of an intense season, he can relax without having to focus on the next event. 

While the season is now over, Peter still has plenty to keep himself busy. His personal training programmes and online classes with Golf Strong are keeping him busy, and he’s also launching a new gym in the city centre. 

Pat Ruddy (European Club), Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) Winner, John Rooney MD Flogas Ireland) and John White President Golf Ireland after the final round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship, European Club, Brittas Bay, Wicklow, Ireland. 17/10/2021 Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Fran Caffrey)
Pat Ruddy (European Club), Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) Winner, John Rooney MD Flogas Ireland) and John White President Golf Ireland after the final round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship, European Club, Brittas Bay, Wicklow, Ireland. 17/10/2021 Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Fran Caffrey)

Peter has teamed up with Peter Stringer and Paul Buckley to bring the successful F45 Training franchise to Cork. 

Their new venue in the Elysian is due to open next month.

Sunday’s win also meant that Peter won the Bridgestone Order of Merit, finishing well clear of the chasing pack. 

And while he maintains that his focus is all about winning titles, now O’Keeffe has the Walker Cup in his sights. 

Although the event doesn’t take place until September 2023 he thinks that he has a shot. 

“I think I deserve to considered. I think I deserved to be in that mix in the past and I don't think there's any reason why it shouldn't be in that conversation. 

"To play Walker Cup would be a great honour. Team selection comes along on the back of individual performances and if I keep winning that should take care of itself. 

"If it happens I’ll be delighted. You’re not too old at 41, the ball doesn’t know how old you are.”


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