Peter O’Keeffe takes one-shot lead at Irish Amateur Open

Former professional hoping wind continues to blow at Royal County Down

 Royal County Down Golf Club. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye/

Royal County Down Golf Club. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye/

 

Former Challenge Tour professional Peter O’Keeffe weathered late evening rain and winds gusting to 30mph at Royal County Down to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open.

The 35-year-old from Douglas made an eagle, two birdies and six bogeys in a two-over 73 to lead on level-par 213 from Scotland’s Christopher MacLean (74).

“I am looking forward to it,” said O’Keeffe, who is hoping for windy conditions for Sunday’s final round.

“I’d like it to blow tomorrow. I’ve done well in conditions like these in the past and gotten through Tour School in horrendous weather.

“It seems to suit me for some bizarre reason and I don’t get too flustered about it.”

Dreaming of what would be his first big amateur win, he added: “It would be great for me. I have a different story to these lads.

“I went to Q-School six times – twice to final stage – and came back to amateur status to enjoy my golf. I never fell out of love with it.”

Belvoir Park’s Marc Norton, the 19-year-old Leinster Youths champion now on a golf scholarship at Oakland University in Michigan, shot a 75 to share third with Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan (73), just two shots behind O’Keeffe on two over par.

It was a tough day for the joint overnight leaders but while South Africa’s Kyle McClatchie crashed to an 80 to slip back to 15th on six over, England’s Sean Towndrow is tied for fifth with Scotland’s Craig Howie (72) after and adventurous 77.

Towndrow, who is only just returning to golf after a year out battling lymphatic cancer, holed out from 100 yards for an eagle two at the 16th but double-bogeyed the last two holes to end the day three behind on three over.

Tramore’s Robin Dawson (71) and Portmarnock’s James Fox (75) are just a shot further back in a four-way tie for seventh as 51 players made the 54-hole cut at 10-over 223.

Defending champion Colm Campbell (71), British Amateur champion Scott Gregory (73) and 16-year-old Mark Power from Kilkenny (74) were among those who made it on the mark.

As for O’Keeffe, he was delighted to finish the day on top after a rollercoaster afternoon with a 20mph westerly breeze that made the course play three strokes harder than the first two days.

The 6’ 5” Cork man reduced the 539-yard first to a drive and a nine iron before rolling in a six footer for eagle.

But conditions deteriorated quickly for the leaders late in the day and while O’Keeffe bogeyed the eighth, ninth and 11th, he dug deep on the way home as driving rain added to the challenge.

After following a birdie at the 12th with bogeys at the 14th and 15th to fall back to two over for the day, he was pleased to play the last three holes into the teeth of the wind and rain in level par.

After a birdie at the 16th, he got up and down from 55 yards for par at the 17th and then settled for a bogey six at the par-five 18th after driving into a bunker.

“I kept it steady in the back nine and was accepting that people were going to drop shots,” said O’Keeffe, who believes his five years on the Challenge Tour will stand to him on Sunday. “When I did drop shots, I didn’t panic.”

Forced to sit out for two years after reapplying for his amateur status at the end of 2013, O’Keeffe is now enjoying his golf more than ever.

“I had a chat with myself after tour school number six and playing Challenge Tour for five years,” he said. “The fun runs out fairly quickly on tour and since I came back to amateur golf, I have been doing nicely and I’m working with good coaches and trying to do it as best as I can.

“I am much more relaxed than I used to be. I am enjoying my golf and I feel the experience I have is invaluable around here.”

Towndrow is philosophical about his golf these days after his battle with cancer and revealed that he wears a heart monitor to keep a close eye on his energy levels.

“The last two holes killed me,” Towndrow said after finishing with double-bogeys on both the front and back nines. “But I had some luck as well.

“I holed out from 100 yards on 16 for a two after a great par on 15 – driver and three iron to the middle of the green. It was just an up and down day.

The 26-year-old from Southport and Ainsdale four-putted the 17th, then took two to escape from a fairway trap at the 18th where he had to hole an eight footer for a seven.

“It’s just nice to be out there,” Towndrow said of his comeback from illness. “The last hurts but it is nice to be going into the last day with a chance.

“It was hard physically the last few holes. I have a heart rate monitor and it got to 130 going up 15. I have to monitor it constantly to make sure it doesn’t get too high.

“But it is all good. We battle on.”

QUALIFIERS

213 P O’Keeffe (Douglas) 70, 70, 73

214 C MacLean (Balmore ) 73, 67, 74

215 M Norton (Belvoir Park) 72, 68, 75; M Jordan (Royal Liverpool ) 68, 74, 73

216 C Howie (Peebles) 73, 71, 72; S Towndrow (Southport & Ainsdale) 69, 70, 77

217 R Dawson (Tramore) 71, 75, 71; H Bernard (Laval Sur-le-Lac) 71, 71, 75; J Fox (Portmarnock) 70, 72, 75; T Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge) 69, 74, 74

218 C Syme (Drumoig ) 74, 71, 73; J Freiburghaus (Domat/Ems) 72, 73, 73; A Venter (Silverlakes) 72, 71, 75; J Hilleard (Farrington Park) 71, 74, 73

219 J Glenn (Brancepeth Castle ) 75, 70, 74; M Schmitt (Rheinhessen) 74, 68, 77; S Bleakley (Shandon Park) 73, 76, 70; J Bolton (Ogbourne Downs) 73, 73, 73; D Boote (Walton Heath) 73, 72, 74; C Consul (Duesseldorfer ) 72, 72, 75; A Gleeson (Castle) 72, 69, 78; C Fairweather (Knock) 71, 76, 72; K McClatchie (Serengeti ) 68, 71, 80

220 S Hagestad (Deepdale ) 73, 71, 76; E McIntosh (Turnhouse ) 71, 71, 78; G Bloor (Cavendish) 71, 70, 79; L Johnston (Dumfries and County) 70, 74, 76; G Petrozzi (Trentham) 69, 75, 76; N Poppleton (Wath) 67, 76, 77

221 M Waite (Filton ) 76, 73, 72; C Strickland (Ham Manor) 76, 70, 75; J Murphy (Kinsale) 75, 66, 80; T Vahlenkamp (Berliner Stolper Heide) 74, 77, 70; J McMahon (Wallasey) 73, 76, 72; G Frimodt (Odense Eventyr ) 72, 73, 76; G Rank (Elmira ) 72, 71, 78; E McCormack (Galway Bay) 71, 75, 75; L Shepherd (Rye ) 71, 75, 75

222 T Gandy (Rowany ) 76, 74, 72; M Schmid (Herzogenaurach) 75, 73, 74; D Dougan (Drumpelier ) 74, 76, 72; G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 74, 72, 76; R Brazill (Naas) 74, 71, 77; S Broholt Lind (Odder Gol) 72, 74, 76; C O’Rourke (Naas) 72, 72, 78

223 C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 79, 73, 71; S Gregory (Corhampton ) 75, 75, 73; M Power (Kilkenny) 75, 74, 74; C Long (Burton ) 75, 74, 74; J Nicholas (Westchester Country Club) 74, 75, 74; R Geissler (St. Leon-Rot) 72, 78, 73

Non-qualifiers

224 B Jones (Northamptonshire county ) 77, 74, 73; N Crawford (Mourne) 76, 73, 75; T Randolph (Arcola) 73, 70, 81; J Skov Olesen (Naestved) 72, 76, 76; L Brown (Muriwai ) 72, 73, 79; T Plumb (Sherborne ) 71, 76, 77

225 J Sundborg (Shanklin & Sandown ) 78, 76, 71; G McDermott (Carton House) 77, 73, 75; M Saulez (Durban) 76, 70, 79; J Pierse (Portmarnock) 74, 74, 77; T Harris (Castletown) 73, 78, 74; J Galbraith (Whitehead) 73, 75, 77; J Wilson (Balmore ) 72, 76, 77; O Percy-Smith (Furesø) 72, 75, 78; J Lyons (Galway) 70, 79, 76; B Gill (Lindrick ) 70, 74, 81

226 S Carter (The Royal Dublin) 75, 74, 77; S Coulter (Warrenpoint) 75, 73, 78; T Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown) 75, 72, 79; G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 73, 75, 78; C Ross (Kirkhill ) 73, 72, 81; L Matthews (Southerndown ) 72, 76, 78; C Raymond (Newlands) 72, 72, 82; J McDonnell (Forrest Little) 69, 79, 78

227 T Dolan (Heswall ) 80, 79, 68; E Leonard (Wentworth) 79, 70, 78; M Ryan (New Ross) 78, 72, 77; R Pierse (Grange) 77, 75, 75; B Chamberlain (Padeswood and Buckley ) 76, 78, 73; A McCormack (Castletroy) 76, 73, 78; E Griffith (Conwy) 74, 71, 82; C Thornton () 73, 79, 75; H Young-alls (Notts ) 73, 79, 75

228 R Dutton (Tandragee) 77, 77, 74; H Goddard (Hanbury Manor) 76, 72, 80; C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 75, 78, 75; L Donnelly (Kilkenny) 74, 78, 76; I O’Rourke (The Royal Dublin) 74, 75, 79; M Nolan (Delgany) 74, 74, 80; D Goldstein (Noyac ) 73, 78, 77; C Rafferty (Dundalk) 72, 74, 82; H Byers (Walton Heath ) 71, 74, 83; R Foley (Lausanne ) 70, 77, 81

229 A Harper (Bolton OldLinks ) 76, 73, 80; P Coughlan (Moate) 75, 75, 79; A Hickey (Ballyhaunis) 73, 78, 78; M Morrissey (Co. Sligo) 71, 81, 77

230 T Beasley (Hunstanton) 79, 74, 77; A Grant (Dundalk) 78, 73, 79; J Hapgood (Southerndown) 77, 80, 73; M Zillekens (Niederrheinischer) 77, 76, 77; G Collins (Rosslare) 76, 79, 75; J Stokes (La Moye) 76, 77, 77; C Farr (Priors Hall) 73, 73, 84; T O’Connor (Athlone) 72, 73, 85

231 S Hamilton (Notts) 80, 74, 77; B Dietzel (Essen-Heidhausen) 80, 73, 78; R Haije (Goyer ) 76, 82, 73; K LeBlanc (The Island) 75, 75, 81; C Unger (St. Leon-Rot) 73, 75, 83; A James (Laval Sur-le-Lac) 71, 72, 88

232 J Sugrue (Mallow) 80, 75, 77; R Neergaard-Petersen (Furesø) 80, 71, 81; J Brady (Rosslare) 77, 82, 73; M Howard (The Royal Birkdale ) 76, 77, 79

233 J Seaman (Wrag Barn) 76, 78, 79; J Long (Lansdown) 76, 76, 81; J Burnage (Saunton ) 75, 84, 74; C Boon (Oubaai) 75, 78, 80; W Small (Tandragee) 75, 72, 86; M Harris (St Mellons) 72, 81, 80

234 G Dunne (Co. Louth) 77, 77, 80; T Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 76, 78, 80

235 B Komline (Black Oak ) 82, 76, 77; J Whelan (Newlands) 80, 75, 80; A McDougall (Elderslie ) 79, 74, 82; K Harman (Southerndown ) 77, 76, 82

236 N Bachem (Marienburger) 78, 70, 88; D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 77, 78, 81; T Cline (The Tuxedo) 76, 77, 83

237 M Hutson (Muriwai ) 80, 76, 81; C Butler (Kinsale) 77, 77, 83

238 H Foley (The Royal Dublin) 81, 73, 84; R Moran (Castle) 80, 79, 79; T McLarnon (Massereene) 79, 79, 80; M Reid (Galgorm Castle) 78, 84, 76

241 T Junak (GC Main-Taunus) 81, 78, 82

243 J Trinder (Pymble ) 82, 80, 81

WD W Russell (Clandeboye) 76, WD; B Best (Rathmore) 77, WD NS D Brophy (Castleknock) 78, 83 WD M Boegel (St. Leon- Rot) 79, WD DQ S Ryan (The Royal Dublin)

Final round tee-times:

8:00 Geissler, Nicholas, Long;

08:12 Power, Gregory, Campbell;

08:24 O’Rourke, Broholt Lind, Brazill;

08:36 Lenehan, Dougan, Schmid;

08:48 Gandy, Shepherd, McCormack;

09:00 Rank, Frimodt, McMahon;

09:12 Vahlenkamp, Murphy, Strickland;

09:24 Waite, Poppleton, Petrozzi;

09:36 Johnston, Bloor, McIntosh;

09:48 Hagestad, McClatchie, Fairweather;

10:00 Gleeson, Consul, Boote;

10:12 Bolton, Bleakley, Schmitt;

10:24 Glenn, Hilleard, Venter;

10:36 Freiburghaus, Syme, Sloman;

10:48 Fox, Bernard, Dawson;

11:00 Towndrow, Howie, Jordan;

11:12 Norton, MacLean, O’Keeffe.

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