Peter O’Keeffe’s two week marathon is finally over, but after eight rounds of golf in five days the Douglas member came agonisingly close to claiming his second major amateur title. This morning O’Keeffe dispatched Robert Brazill on the 17th green to reach the final of the North of Ireland in Portrush. This afternoon he faced England’s Arron Edwards-Hill in the final. Having spent last week in Lahinch caddying for Robin Dawson, O’Keeffe was onto day 11 of his golfing marathon. He was heading into his 14th round this afternoon, and he was determined to give it his all in pursuit of the famous provincial title.
The final started with a few scrappy holes, Edwards-Hill won the first, Peter won the second, and Edwards-Hill won the third when O’Keeffe lost a ball. But after that the golf improved with both golfers taking advantage of the prevailing wind and hitting bombs on the firm fairways. At the turn O’Keeffe was two down, but given the way he played the back nine in Portstewart this week, you’d imagine he was fairly confident that he could catch Hill who was runner-up in the West a few months ago. Despite O’Keeffe shaving several holes for the win, the next four holes were halved. O’Keeffe’s task became harder on the 15th when the Englishman birdied to go three up. Peter holes a clutch six-footer on the 16th, that half was needed to keep the match alive, and he holed a great ten footer to win the 16th. With both players on the green in regulation on the 17th, O’Keeffe needed to hole a 30 foot putt for the win. Although he threatened the hole, it stayed above ground and Arron Edwards-Hill won the match 2&1.
This afternoon’s loss is no doubt a disappointment for O’Keeffe, but it does signal a welcome return to form after a very bright start to the season. With the South coming up in less than two weeks time, and plenty more top level golf to play this season, the North was a timely calling card for O’Keeffe.
Tomorrow the focus changes from national to local as Kinsale will host the Barton Shield. O’Keeffe will not feature for Douglas, a sensible decision give the past two weeks, and Mallow’s James Sugrue is also unavailable as he’s sill in Sweden with the Irish team at the European Team Championships. There will be 16 teams in action tomorrow morning with play getting underway in Kinsale at 8am. The link to the draw is below, and results will be updated once available.