THE AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close gets underway on Saturday morning in Headfort GC.
Peter O’Keeffe is looking to become the first golfer to successfully defend the title since Rory McIlroy won in 2005 and 2006.
The Douglas golfer defeated Castle’s Rob Moran in a Play-Off last year in Tullamore. After a recent run to the final of the South of Ireland Championship, the Cork golfer feels he’s in good form.
“I’m playing nicely. I did well in Ballyliffin at the Home Internationals, and I had a good run in Lahinch. I’ll try and get back into that mindset I had in the South. It’ll be hot in Headfort, so it’ll all be about looking after ourselves in the first two days.
“The different format doesn’t change my mindset. If I play well, I think I’ll be in with a chance.”
Despite a slow start to the year, O’Keeffe’s form has improved throughout the summer, and he hopes he can continue that on Headfort’s New Course.
“For some reason, I’m a slow starter in seasons. Something clicked at the British Amateur, and I’ve pushed on from there. I was making cuts and playing ok, but by my own standards, it wasn’t great.
The 2022 champion will play eight rounds in five days, and with high temperatures expected in the Meath venue, O’Keeffe says it could be a battle of the fittest.
“It’ll drain guys mentally and physically. The players who prepare themselves and mind themselves - it’ll certainly stand to them.”
36 holes of stroke play will be played on Saturday and Sunday, with the top-64 advancing to the Championship rounds, with the final taking place on Wednesday afternoon.