O’Keeffe on Walker Cup squad: “It’s the pinnacle achievement of any amateur golfer”

Ronan MacNamara
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Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) (Image: Niall O'Shea)

Peter O’Keeffe believes a quick start to the season will give him the best chance of securing a Walker Cup debut for Great Britain and Ireland in St Andrews next September.

O’Keeffe was named alongside compatriots Matthew McClean, Hugh Foley, Robert Moran, Mark Power and Liam Nolan in a provisional 19-man squad and he is the elder statesman on the panel at 41-years-old.

The Douglas native announced his credentials last year securing the Irish Amateur and Irish Close Championship double – becoming the first player since Pádraig Harrington in 1995 to achieve such a feat. He also made the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship this year but knows he will have to find the perfect work/golf balance if he is to hit form earlier next season and catch the eye of captain Stuart Wilson.

“I’m going to try and make an effort to be competitive earlier in the season which has been a challenge to me in the past just with my business etc,” said the Irish Mid-Am champion. “The year that is in it I owe it to myself to give myself every chance and the people around me and those who helped me with coaching etc, it would be really nice for the Peter O’Keeffe team to achieve that goal.

“Both years I won the Irish Amateur were not Walker Cup years which was unfortunate. It would be lovely to get a bit of form at just the right time. My issue in the past is that I am so busy in the winter that I don’t hit my stride until the middle of the season so I am trying to change that and see can I get flowing a little bit earlier so you’re not waiting until May or June to hit form albeit it was nice it was just too late.

“I do a lot of the right stuff it’s to do a lot of it earlier in the season so I can get into the flow of it so you can just play, you’re not worried about stuff you might be worried about earlier in the season.

“It’s a big thing for me and that’s what I need to change going into next season to give myself the biggest chance.”

The strength and conditioning coach who owns the GolfStrong brand in Douglas Co. Cork felt he deserved a Walker Cup chance in October 2021 and those feelings have only grown stronger over the last 14 months and making the team would be the ‘pinnacle’ of his amateur career.

Team USA have adopted a policy of including two Mid-Ams in their ranks and O’Keeffe believes he can lend a wealth of experience to a youthful looking team GB&I squad (eight teenagers) having assumed a leadership role in Ireland’s heroic Home Internationals win last year.

“I’m delighted to be part of the squad, it’s the pinnacle achievement of any amateur golfer to play Walker Cup. I’ve a really good support network around me in terms of friends in the golf club, outside of the golf club, my family. I married into a big sporting family, everyone is aware I have no problem in publicly saying it’s a massive goal of mine.

“I need to focus on what I’ve done before that has given me my successes in amateur golf and just working on other small things. I’ll always be working on my technique and my fitness. I think I have a lot of experience that would stand to me in that scenario.

“I could lend a lot of experience to the team there are a lot of young names on the team, a lot of those guys I don’t even know yet. We have a training week at the end of March in St Andrews,” added the former Challenge Tour professional who feels performances abroad will be key for selection.

“The bigger events like the Lytham Trophy, St Andrews Links and the British Am stand out. I think if anybody comes along and does well in one of those or even wins one of those they are pretty banked to be on the team.

“But you have to back it up if I can have the year I had in 2021 that can be enough, so that gives me a lot of confidence to know that I did that in the past and it would be great to recreate it.”

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