Golfer Peter O'Keeffe reflects on a stellar season on and off the course

In the space of just 10 weeks he won more than any golfer has in the recent past. 
Golfer Peter O'Keeffe reflects on a stellar season on and off the course

Peter O'Keeffe in action in Lahinch at the South of Ireland in July. Picture: Niall O'Shea

THE season is over, and double Irish Champion Peter O’Keeffe is enjoying his off-season. 

He’s still very busy though, juggling two businesses and still working on his fitness and speed, but he’s also taking the chance to reflect on his success. 

In the space of just 10 weeks he won more than any golfer has in the recent past. 

An AIG Irish Close title in August was followed by the Home Internationals. 

The Munster Stroke Play followed in early October and that was followed by the Flogas Irish Open, the last event of the season. 

An in the middle of it he was won at home, claiming the Douglas Scratch Cup for the first time after finishing as runner up on five previous occasions. 

Peter, who turned 40 last month is now enjoying the stellar season with a daily reminder of the major successes.

“I have the trophies under the TV at home,” explained O’Keeffe. 

“They are there for a reason, I’m not the best for celebrating so every night I come home they are a reminder. It’s great to look at them, they are so hard to win, and it’s so hard to win multiple ones in one year.” 

While all of the wins stand on their own merits O’Keeffe admits that the Irish Open was his personal highlight. 

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. Picture: Niall O'Shea
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. Picture: Niall O'Shea

“I have an emotional attachment to the Irish Amateur trophy, it kickstarted my amateur career after coming back. I’ve won in Cork twice back-to-back and the Close was great to win. 

"To add the Open to that was great when I knew I could do something special. Christmas now will be a good time to slow down and enjoy the success a little bit more.”

After winning the Close in Tullamore in August, Peter knew he had a chance to create a bit of history. 

There are a few golfers who have won the Irish Amateur Open more than once, but there have been only six golfers who have done the Open and Close double in one season. 

Winning in the European Club meant that O’Keeffe became just the seventh Irish golfer to win the domestic double, and the first in 26 years after Padraig Harrington also won the double in 1995.

O’Keeffe is quick to point out he was two putts away from two second place finishes. 

Two massive putts in each event - both on the final green put O’Keeffe into a playoff from where he sealed the win. Equally in both cases, competitors missed putts that would have consigned Peter to a runner-up placing. 

But O’Keeffe was up for the challenge on both occasions, and his approach to the play-offs give a little insight into why he came out on top.

“There’s an element in a playoff that allows you to free up. The challenge is actually to free yourself up a bit more and not go the other way. 

"With the playoff in Tullamore, Rob Moran was a similar aggressive player. I had good patience, I hit nice shots at the right time and I had a bit of room on the last. 

"Whereas the playoff in the European Club was completely different. I needed to hole a 25 foot putt on the last to make the playoff and then played really well, really solid against a good player who wasn’t going to go away. 

"They were different but a playoff doesn’t make me hang on or get tight, it frees me up a bit more.”

That’s an example of the fine margins that are in play at elite amateur level in Irish golf. 

And Peter ended up at the wrong end of that a number of times earlier in the season. He lost out in the semi-final of the North when Alex Maguire had three eagles, and he also lost out in the last 16 of the South where he was fancied by many. 

Despite the lack of success in the first half of the season, O’Keeffe knew his game was on the right track and was prepared to keep going.

“I was very happy at that stage of the season. I’d have a very patient approach now on my own golf, and I’ve a good awareness of where it is. Whereas a few years ago I’d panic if I wasn’t hitting the shots or playing poorly. 

"In my own training I could see the results. When I went to Portrush it’s a place I really like so I expected to perform. 

"I was disappointed to lose in the semi-final but it was a great game. Alex had three eagles in the match and it hard to legislate for that. In Lahinch it was the same, I was playing well in the qualifying and in the matchplay but lost out in a really good match to Josh Hill. I knew I was hitting some good numbers so I was waiting for a good stroke play event.”

Peter Stringer, former Munster and Irish rugby player, (left) and Peter O'Keeffe, Irish international golfer, business partners in the studio space where their F45 studio will be located in The Elysian, Cork.
Peter Stringer, former Munster and Irish rugby player, (left) and Peter O'Keeffe, Irish international golfer, business partners in the studio space where their F45 studio will be located in The Elysian, Cork.

The win in Tullamore was the start of a great run that will be hard to beat in the years to come, three tournament wins in a row that included two national titles and a provincial championship.

Without the distraction of tournament golf, Peter is back at work in the Golf Strong gym full time. As well as his online classes and his personal training sessions it comes a no surprise that he’s also working on his own fitness. 

“It’s technical and it’s physical but the key focus is mobility work. I keep telling all golfers and I do it myself, that’s where I’ve seen my speed going up. 

"I do my own S&C work and I train with Paul and the other lads. My main technical work is small snippets on positions that I work on with Noel Fox. 

"We had a high-performance team session in Portmarnock last week and I hadn’t played since the European Club and I wasn’t rusty. That’s a big win for me, that you can pick the club up and remember the movements. 

"I feel I could play a tournament this week and I’d be ready."

O’Keeffe credits Noel Fox for much of the success over the last four years. 

He sought out Fox back in 2016 after his first season back as an amateur and since then he has worked closely with the Dublin based teaching pro. 

“The plan back in 2016 was to make the swing as good as we could get it, and it’s probably this year that I’ve got it to a place where I can look at it and be happy with what I see. 

"That’s important when I’m more focused on the technique and how I move rather than the result. It’s great to show up in Portmarnock and play lovely and hit the ball well, it’s all there. 

"It’s not necessarily about positioning of the club or hitting balls and balls, it’s continuous practice on the improvements I’m trying to achieve. That way it comes more naturally and more comfortable under pressure. 

"That was the big thing I took from the European Club, particulate final day. There’s expectation and a little bit of pressure and the excitement of it, but I just stuck to focusing on the movements all day long.”

As well as developing his own Golf Strong brand, Peter is also involved with bringing the F45 gym franchise to Cork. 

Along with Peter Stringer and Paul Buckley, they are opening the first F45 in the Elysian. The new gym is one of the fastest growing franchises in the world and already has several locations in Dublin. 

The team based personal training has proved a hit in Dublin and Peter is delighted with the reaction in Cork so far. 

O’Keeffe and Stringer will be running some of the sessions so he has been spending some time in Dublin to get up to speed with the system. 

All in all, 2022 could be every bit as successful for O’Keeffe, and you can be pretty sure next year will also be a busy one.

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