Peter O’Keeffe came agonisingly close to capturing the South of Ireland Championship last week. O’Keeffe is a major fan of Lahinch and went to the Pierse Motors sponsored South after finding some form at the British Amateur a few weeks ago. The Douglas golfer opened the Strokeplay qualifier with a two under par 70 to sit just inside the top ten. A second round 72 ensured that he finished in the top 25, comfortably qualifying for the matchplay stage. On Friday he had a tough assignment but dispatched two Irish Internationals. In the first round he beat Marc Boucher by two holes and on Friday afternoon he wrapped up his match against Alex Maguire with a 3 & 2 win on the 16th green. Saturday’s matches would proved tougher as one finished on the 18th and the other on the 19th.
O’Keeffe faced Tramore’s Jack Hearn in the round of 16,and he was one down at the turn after some great golf from the two. The lead changed a few times on the back nine and Hearn had the lead going up the par five 18th. After a great drive down the left, Peter was left with 245 yards and a great three wood finished in the heart of the green. One putt later he got the win to force the match to the 19th where he booked his quarter final spot.
He faced another Irish International in Saturday afternoon and had a good start to go four up on Keith Egan after five holes. Egan battled back and got the match back to level but crucially Peter was one up playing the last. Similar to the previous round he out-muscled the famous closing hole. With 290 to the flag, another cracking three wood that rolled up the green and settled just off the left edge. With Egan missing his birdie, O’Keeffe won to book a semi-final spot. On Sunday morning he faced Liam Nolan, with the Galway man winning their previous match at the semi-final of the West earlier this year. O’Keeffe turned the tables, but only after he had to birdie the 18th to extend the match, and like Saturday he won on the 19th.
That left a final against Hugh Foley who won the North of Ireland lass that two weeks ago. O’Keeffe lost the first but recovered and was two up after five holes. By the turn the match was flat and after the 14th Foley was one up. The Royal Dublin member win the 16th with a birdie to go two up with two to play. That meant Peter needed to win the 17th and when drive finished next to the wall on the Liscannor Road the challenge was effectively over. After Peter failed to chip in for par he sportingly conceded to Foley.
Four other Cork golfers were involved in the matchplay. Gary O’Flaherty made it through as one of three +2’s to get in but he lost on the 17th to eventual winner Hugh Foley. Dean O’Riordan beat Josh Robinson on Friday morning but lost to Sean Flanagan in the second round. The two Blarney golfers taking part made an impressive debut at Lahinch. Both Alan Riordan and Darren Kelleher not only qualified but they also both won their first round matches before going out in the final 32. Both can be proud of their first appearance in Lahinch. The player experience at the South was really positive, and the Old Course in Lahinch was in great condition, with the greens in particular coming in for praise from the entire field of over 150 entrants.