A sensational start set the tone for Peter O’Keeffe who roared into a share of the first round lead at the St Andrews Links Trophy after opening his campaign with a birdie, birdie, albatross in his first three holes.
O’Keeffe played his next fifteen holes in level-par to sign for a five-under 66 on the New Course at St Andrews which leaves him in a share of the overnight lead alongside compatriot Robert Moran and a trio of European players.
The Douglas native started like a house on fire, threatening eagles on the first two holes before holing out from 160 yards with a wedge on the par-5 3rd for a first competitive albatross to take him to -5.
“I’ve had one before in a society thing a hole in one on a par four but this is my first competitive albatross,” said O’Keeffe. “I hit a really good tee shot about 380 down the fairway and I had 160 to the hole, I normally carry my wedge 147 and we were trying to cover the front number and I flushed a wedge straight at the hole, I knew it would be perfect and it landed and spun and fell into the hole. Two perfect holes and a bonus it was on a par five.
“Funny enough the last time I played the St Andrews Links I was six-under through nine and I didn’t do great in the tournament but I know the Old Course an awful lot more now and lines off tees is what I will be focusing on and executing shots and keep building on today’s round and put myself into position for Sunday.”
It’s a timely return to form for O’Keeffe who travelled to the event as part of the provisional Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup panel ahead of September’s contest against USA at St Andrews.
The Cork man hasn’t had much to cheer about this season with a 9th place finish in South Africa but a final round 67 at last week’s East of Ireland Championship saw him arrive at the Home of Golf with a pep in his step as he looks to turn a corner and revive his Walker Cup hopes.
“I haven’t been playing well at all really in the last month or two but put in some good work in between rounds in Baltray and put something together in the last round and I’ve hit a million balls out here which have given me nice feels to work with.
“The start today was a complete bonus which was lovely. I lipped out for eagle on the first the driveable par four and then I lipped out for eagle on the second and held a wedge from 160 on the third so I was flying. It was a nice round, it played tricky coming in on the back nine the wind was in an awkward direction and I played solidly to keep it together.”