Evidently still riding on the crest of a wave after a historic 2021 campaign, Peter O’Keeffe picked up where he left off with a four-under par 68 on the opening day of the Spanish Amateur at Sherry Golf Jerez.
In 2021, the Douglas man etched his name in Irish golf folklore with victories at the Home Internationals, the Douglas Scratch Cup and the Munster Stroke Play before completing a rare double and becoming the first player since Padraig Harrington to capture both the AIG Irish Amateur Close Trophy and the Flogas Men’s Irish Amateur Open titles.
O’Keeffe, who admitted before the tournament that he’s generally a slow starter when it comes to playing his way into a new season, showed no signs of rust, trading five birdies with one bogey to be sitting in a share of second, three adrift of German Carl Siemens’ lead.
“I’m just so stubbornly focussed on what I’m doing that if I just keep doing the stuff that works for me and not change any of my preparation around tournaments, I’d expect at least to be in the mix again,” O’Keeffe told us recently.
“I’m generally a slow starter into the season and I’m OK with that, but I suppose it’s a bonus I’m looking at if I do get a quicker start into the season, things might be different, but I’m patient. I’m happy with my own processes so we’ll see what comes out of it.”
O’Keeffe heads the Irish challenge after day one where fellow Irish international, Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley also impressed with four birdies and two dropped shots in a two-under 70 to be sitting inside the top-10.
Carton House’s Marc Boucher was the only other Irishman to manage parity or better after signing for an even par 72 with Jack McDonnell (+1), and the trio of Liam Nolan, Alan Fahy and Paul Coughlan were all two-over par and in a tie for 50th. The top-64 after Wednesday’s second round advance to the Match Play.
Meanwhile, in the Women’s event, Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter fared best of the Irish contingent after posting an opening two-over 74. Coulter traded four bogeys with two birdies and sits in a share of 33rd place, seven back of Spain’s Martina Lopez who heads the field after an opening 67.
Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan carded five birdies but a few too many mistakes to be outside the top-64 in a tie for 74th after signing for a six-over 78. Also in need of a big round on Wednesday is Lahinch’s Aideen Walsh who sits a shot further back after a 79 on day one.
As with the men’s format, the top-64 after Wednesday’s second round advance to the Match Play stages of the tournament.