Winners from 2020 can Smile

There weren’t too many winners in Cork golf in 2020, but those few that did manage to claim success will look back on the year with a smile.  After losing eight weeks in the spring, and with graduated protocols for a return to competitive golf, the national and regional schedules changed dramatically with far fewer individual and inter-club events taking place.  Berehaven made history in October when the West Cork club won their first Munster title.  They won the Munster final of the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield in Killarney   Wins over Tramore and Shannon saw them emerge from Killarney with the pennant as Munster champions, their first time the club had achieved success at this level.  Unfortunately for Berehaven, the plans for the all-Ireland finals in Donegal in late October were postponed.  The 2020 finals are now scheduled to take place in Donegal in 2021.

Peter O’Keeffe pictured after winning the Munster Strokeplay in August.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Peter O’Keeffe won the Munster Strokeplay in Cork Golf Club in early September.  The traditional May date for the competition was lost but it was great that it was included in the reduced schedule for the second half of the year.  The Cork Scratch Cup was renamed the Munster Strokeplay Championship over a decade ago.  While Cork golfers would regularly win the event in the past, that task is a little harder now as the championship attracts the top Irish amateurs.  Cathal Butler was the last Cork golfer to win in 2016 and before that it was Kieran McCarthy in 2013.  O’Keeffe was in good form entering the event and he cited patience as one of the keys to winning the 72 hole event.  O’Keeffe was four off the lead at the halfway stage, but having opened with two 70’s he was playing well.  He eased clear of the field in the third round thanks to a super six under par round of 66.  That saw him lead the tournament by three, but he eventually went on to win by seven strokes.  A final round of 68 (-4) was an impressive and fitting way to finish for the Douglas golfer.  After five years back in the amateur game O’Keeffe collected his second major trophy, having won the Irish Amateur Open in Royal County Down in 2017.

John Murphy

Kinsale’s John Murphy started 2020 in Kentucky in his senior year in Louisville.  Ranked in the top 100 in the world rankings he was looking forward to continuing his early season form.  He won the Dorado Beach Collegiate championship in February but like everyone else his season took an enforced break in March.  He returned to Ireland and practiced for the early summer before returning to Kentucky in August.  He won his second event back in the US, the GCAA Amateur in Georgia and late last year he was named in the Walker Cup extended panel.  Murphy was awarded the Byron Nelson Award last May.  Importantly Murphy also secured a start in the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Classic which is scheduled for Texas next May.  After a short Christmas break in Kinsale, Murphy is now back in the US and preparing for the spring events which start in two weeks.

Although James Sugrue didn’t manage to win any events in 2020, he’ll look back on it with some fond memories.  While plans to turn professional were put on hold, it meant that he was able to play in two US Majors.  The invitations came courtesy of his 2019 Amateur Championship win, and while both events were delayed, he did get to play in the US Open in September and the Masters Tournament in November.  Getting to Augusta National is a bucket list event for many golfers, playing the Masters is at another level entirely.  And Sugrue made the most of it.  Although he missed the cut, he shot a one under par round of 71 in his second round.  He became the first amateur from Ireland and Great Britain to shoot under par.  In addition to the majors, Sugrue also got to play in two other European Tour events.  Early in the season he played in the Oman Open, and in September he played in the Irish Open at Galgorm in Ballymena.  Although he was only returning from the US Open in New York, Sugrue played very well at the Irish Open and made the cut for the first time in a professional event.  With three major and two European Tour events behind him, those experiences, he’ll be looking forward to finally turning professional this year and getting out on tour in pro events.

O’Keeffe’s Drive for Fitness

Peter O’Keeffe in his new gym in Douglas Golf Club.  Picture: Niall O’Shea

Unless you have an indoor studio and a trackman, the chances are you’re not playing much golf at the moment.  That’s probably the case for almost all golfers in Cork, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be getting ready for the season ahead.  Peter O’Keeffe’s online golf fitness classes are proving popular for plenty of keen golfers.  The Irish International golfer is currently running a range of online classes, and he’s attracting a large audience for his weekly classes and programmes.  While the classes are online the content is all based from his new custom built golf performance gym in Douglas Golf Club.  With almost 12 months of zoom experiences behind us and the year starting with a two month lockdown, January was an ideal time for O’Keeffe to launch his twice weekly series of classes.  Now heading into March, Peter is Continue reading

O’Keeffe Blitzes the field to claim Munster Stroke Play

Peter O’Keeffe celebrates with his wife Mary Claire and daughter Alice following his Munster Strokeplay win

Peter O’Keeffe won the biggest prize in Cork golf on Sunday.  After 72 holes he won the Munster Stroke Play and added his name to the famous Cork Scratch Cup.  O’Keeffe had a blistering performance on Sunday, he entered the final 36 holes 4 off the lead but ended up winning by seven strokes.  Two rounds of 70 put on Saturday put him in contention going into the second day.  Saturday’s performance included 11 birdies and one eagle, and that gave the Douglas golfer the confidence to know his game was good enough to win.  O’Keeffe reached Continue reading

PGA’s Pro’s getting back in the swing

Cork Golf Centre

While courses opened in mid-May, it took most Golf Professionals a few weeks more to restart their businesses.  Almost all PGA Professionals are now back in business following the lockdown and many are reporting a strong start to the shortened season.  Cork Golf Centre re-opened in May and the Ballincollig centre is now back to offering the full range or services.  Wayne O’Callaghan is one of three teaching professionals based in the centre and he’s delighted with the large number of golfers coming for lessons or just Continue reading

Douglas Golfing History

For over 110 years, Douglas Golf Club has looked over the city, ideally positioned on its elevates site on Maryborough Hill.  The original course was designed by golf legend Harry Vardon, a six time winner of the British Open.  Vardon designed the original eighteen hole layout after walking the land which was leased from Patrick McAuliffe.   The groundsmen worked with Tramore’s John McNamara who oversaw the build, and the first nine holes opened in December 1909.  The second nine opened a few months later and the first competition on the new course was held in April.  The course was an overnight success, drawing in a large membership from the Continue reading

The Year that was 2019

James Sugrue pictured with Irish Mens Captain John Carroll

2019 was a stellar year for Cork golfers.  With seven Corkmen winning international caps, there were plenty of great performances among several notable individual wins.  Just three years ago there wasn’t a single Cork golfer on the national mens squad, this year there were three golfers to reach that standard in what must be regarded as a great run for Cork golf.  With three seniors, one boys and three mens representatives, it was an impressive number of caps.  Top of the list of course was James Sugrue, the Amateur Champion.  The Mallow man won the Castletroy Scratch Cup in May, but less than a month later his world would change with the win of a lifetime in Portmarnock.  An Amateur Championship win seemed unlikely at a few stages during that week in Dublin.  After just five holes on the first day of qualifying Sugrue branded the course as “insanely long”, and he found himself three down deep into the back nine in the second round of matchplay.  In what was a marathon rather than a sprint, Sugrue played himself into form, thanks in equal parts to a new Titleist driver, solid advice from Neil Manchip and a hot putter.  On that Saturday morning playing in the Amateur Championship final, few would have thought it was his seventh round of the week.  He sprinted into a five up lead against Scotland’s Ewan Walker.  Despite the impressive start, the final would prove to be another marathon lasting the full 36 holes.  The Mallow man, watched by a record crowd of over 3,000 claimed the win on the final green, becoming the second Cork golfer after Jimmy Bruen to win the Amateur Championship.  That win saw Sugrue’s schedule change, with an unplanned visit to Portrush for the Open championship taking priority in his calendar.  James was very unlucky to miss the cut, a lost ball on the 14th on Friday cost him a place at the weekend when Shane Lowry created his own bit of history.  Although injury hampered Sugrue towards the end of the season he had the honour of raising the Irish flag at the Walker Cup in Royal Liverpool in September.

Peter O’Keeffe

Peter O’Keeffe started the year off with a win, he came out on top in Muskerry in April winning their senior scratch cup.  A five under par 66 gave O’Keeffe a good start and he was under par again in the second round to win the competition by two strokes.  It was the second time that O’Keeffe won in Muskerry, his first coming 13 years ago in 2006.  O’Keeffe was fifth in the East of Ireland and topped that by reaching the final of the North in July.  Prior to the North he spent the week in Lahinch caddying for Robin Dawson in the Open.  Peter finished second in the North of Ireland, which this year moved to Portstewart and Castlerock due Portrush staging the Open Championship.  He lost out to Englishman Aaron Edwards Hill after a final that went to the 17th hole.  The Douglas man was back in Lahinch later on in July, this time as a player in the South of Ireland.  He started well, finishing in the top ten after the Strokeplay qualifier.  He then Continue reading

Irish Mid-Am title for Peter O’Keeffe

Peter O'Keeffe Irish Mid Amateur Sept 2019_2

Peter O’Keeffe (Pic: Golffile)

Peter O’Keeffe scooped a second national title today, winning the Irish Mid Amateur in Royal Belfast.  The Douglas golfer had a wire to wire win following rounds of 68,70 & 71.  His winning score of 209 was the only score to break par on the Harry Colt designed course.  O’Keeffe jumped into the lead after an opening 68 on Saturday morning, the two under par round had four birdies and one double bogey in the opening round to lead the field by one.  He followed that with a level par 70 in the afternoon, again closing with birdies on the 16th and 18th.  The 2017 Irish Open winner had a one shot lead going into today’s final round.  Rathmore’s Ben Best was one behind but two bogies on the first and second gave Peter a lead of three.  O’Keeffe went out in a steady level par, made up of seven pars, one birdie and one birdie.  The back nine was even steadier, eight pars and just one bogey on 17th say him sign for a 71.  Playing with the two nearest competitors, O’Keeffe knew he was in the lead and closed out the win with ease.  Colm Campbell and France’s Christophe DeGrancey were one back on level par for the tournament.

Kinsale’s Kieran McCarthy finished in the top ten, he finished on eight over for 8th place.  Mark Collins was one shot back and finished in 11th place.  Lee Valley’s Jason Galway was the Continue reading