Peter O’Keeffe ready for season defining stretch starting at the East

Ronan MacNamara

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Peter O’Keeffe Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ronan MacNamara

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Peter O’Keeffe hopes the hard work he has done in practice will come to fruition this month as he looks towards the East of Ireland this weekend and the Amateur Championship in a few weeks.

O’Keeffe has endured a frustrating start to the championship season with a 10th place finish at the Munster Amateur the best he has mustered so far.

The 42-year-old Douglas star has been trying to balance his practice sessions with a thriving Golf Strong brand but he believes the East of Ireland in Baltray this weekend could be a turning point for him with an eye towards the Amateur in Ballyliffin.

“My biggest challenge is managing my time to put in the practice I used to put in. I love practicing. When I done well it was definitely on the back of some really good work and good reps and being disciplined in practice. I’ve done more of that lately and I definitely feel like it’s getting there.

“Baltray is a place I really like so I’m just going to put my head down this weekend and put in some good work up there. For me, that runs into the amateur in Ballyliffin so if there’s any couple of weeks that can define your season it’s in the next month.

“I’m doing some great work with Noel (Fox) so it’s getting there on camera so it’s up to me to let it happen.

“I’ve had glimpses of stretches of golf during rounds that I know is good enough to win championships because I’ve done it thankfully. So I’m trying to be as patient as I can.”

While the two-time Irish Amateur winner hopes a return to a comfortable environment in Baltray can provide him with the spark he has been looking for, he knows he isn’t too far away from finding his best stuff as he plots his path to Amateur glory in Ballyliffin from June 17-22.

A 2021 semi-finalist, O’Keeffe was on site in Portmarnock five years ago when fellow Cork man James Sugrue won the Amateur title on home soil.

“I did well in Lytham a couple of years ago, I got to the lsat eight and when you get that far out of 288 you think about winning and what that brings. It didn’t go to plan for me I lost in the quarter final. But when you see friends doing well like James Sugrue in 2019 and the journey he went on it was a pity for him it happened through Covid, he probably didn’t get the buzz that others get out of it.

“To see him win that day in Portmarnock, if I could pull it off in Ballyliffin it would be the gold ribbon event. It’s a tournament that gives a prize like no other. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Irish players like Matthew McClean, Seán Keeling, Hugh Foley and Liam Nolan will be the favourites to carry the Irish charge into the latter stages of the championship and O’Keeffe expects there to be multiple home hopefuls hanging around at the deep end and he hopes to be one of them.

“We most likely will. There’s always a good quality field and you might get drawn against names you don’t recognise but a hole or two in you realise they are really good players. That’s a challenge.

“It’s about getting through the strokeplay with a strategy that won’t blow you out of the tournament then it’s anyone’s game, if you are playing well you can progress, if you are playing OK you can get a couple of matches under your belt and play better and all of a sudden you see guys winning.”

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