Phonecall keeps O’Keeffe’s dream of winning South of Ireland Championship alive

Kennedy adds 67 to his opening 66 to top the qualifiers on a countback on 11-under par 133

Max Kennedy  during the first  round of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch golf club, Co Clare. Photograph:   Fran Caffrey/Golffile.ie

Max Kennedy during the first round of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch golf club, Co Clare. Photograph: Fran Caffrey/Golffile.ie

 

A call to coach Noel Fox worked like a dream as Douglas’ Peter O’Keeffe kept his dream of winning the Pierse Motors Volkswagen-sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Championship alive with a super second round 66.

The 39-year-old former Irish Amateur Open winner was under pressure to make the cut at sun-baked Lahinch after opening with a one-over 73.

But he called six-time championship winner Fox on the eve of his wedding, and the SOS call proved worthwhile as he made six birdies in a bogey-free round – the joint best of the day alongside Galgorm Castle’s Joshua Hill and Nenagh’s Dave Reddan – to qualify with ease on five-under-par, six strokes behind leading qualifier Max Kennedy from Royal Dublin.

“I was hitting it left, and I like to fade the ball, so I gave him a ring last night,” the Corkman said. “He’s getting married today, but he gave me a few nuggets over the phone, and it was back to normal today.”

Beaten by eventual champion James Sugrue in the semi-finals in 2017, O’Keeffe would dearly love to add the South to his win in the 2017 Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down. “I’d love it. There’s just something special about Lahinch. It’s such a special event. It’s magic. It would be a dream to win here.”

Top 64

The cut for the top 64 who qualified for the matchplay fell at two-over-par 146 with just two of the 19 players on that mark getting in.

But while the likes of former winners Pat Murray (147), Caolan Rafferty (148) and defending champion Sean Desmond (153) missed out, and John Greene retired with a back injury, the cut was of no concern to 19-year old Kennedy, who has just completed his freshman year at the University of Louisville.

A beaten semi-finalist in the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush last week, where O’Keeffe was also a loser in the last four, he added a 67 to his opening 66 to top the qualifiers on a countback on 11-under par 133 from Athlone’s Thomas O’Connor, who followed Wednesday’s stunning 63 with a workmanlike 70.

“I’m playing nicely,” said Kennedy, who went out in five-under 31 before following a double-bogey six at the 10th with a birdie at the 13th and another at the 15th, where he chipped in from the rough from 30 yards. “The double on 10 was the only mistake I made, but I got a bit fatigued out there. It was hot. If you don’t drink your water it can kill you.

“It’s nice to lead the qualifiers because it shows I’m playing well and I am feeling decent enough about matchplay. Everything is off the table now, so let’s see what happens.”

O’Connor was delighted to follow his nine-under-par opening round with a 70 that might have been for bogeys at the 15th and 16th.

“I found it a tougher day, but I made a couple of good birdies to start again, made a couple of long putts and missed a few short ones, but overall, I’m very happy to back it up,” said the Athlone Golf Club vice-captain, who won the Ulster Mid-Amateur and reached the quarter-finals of the West of Ireland in 2018.

Two shots clear

Kennedy and O’Connor finished two shots clear of 17-year-old Irish boys international Joshua Hill from Galgorm Castle, who shot a bogey-free 66, and Portumna’s Sam Murphy, who carded a 70.

Hill is one of Irish golf’s up and coming talents, having captured the prestigious McGregor Trophy for under-16s in England two years ago.

“It was just about qualifying and not doing anything stupid,” said the Ballymena talent, who like Kennedy and Murphy is making his debut at Lahinch. “I just tried to hit fairways and greens, so I didn’t have to hit driver that much. I just hit irons and hybrids to get the ball in play.”

Tralee’s Darren O’Sullivan shot 67 to qualify tied fifth with international Marc Boucher from Carton House and Malone’s Matthew McClean.

Laytown and Bettystown’s Alex Maguire, who is going for his third championship win this season after victories in the Connacht Strokeplay and last week’s North of Ireland, qualified comfortably on five-under after a 71.

Qualifiers (par72)
133
M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 66 67 (leading qualifier), T O'Connor (Athlone) 63 70;
135 J Hill (Galgorm Castle) 69 66, S Murphy (Portumna) 65 70;
136 D O'Sullivan (Tralee) 69 67, M Boucher (Carton House) 69 67, M McClean (Malone) 67 69;
137 K Murphy (Arklow) 70 67, R Galligan (Elm Park) 66 71;
138 P Conroy (Enniscorthy) 71 67, D Flynn (Carton House) 69 69, H O'Hare (Fortwilliam) 68 70, C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown GC) 68 70;
139 P O'Keeffe (Douglas) 73 66, A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown GC) 68 71;
140 D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 74 66, J Whelan (Grange) 72 68, K Egan (Carton House) 70 70, K McCarron (North West) 69 71, E Shipp (Headfort) 69 71, S Carroll (Ballybunion) 69 71, A Marshall (Lisburn) 68 72, S Walker (Roscommon) 68 72;
141 T Ford (Co. Sligo) 74 67, J McDonnell (Forrest Little) 71 70, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 70 71, C Hickey (Dooks) 70 71, J Hood (Galgorm Castle) 70 71;
142 J Hewitt (Tandragee) 74 68, J Lyons (Galway) 74 68, J Doherty (Carton House) 73 69, E Sullivan (Carton House) 71 71, G Collins (Rosslare) 70 72, A Hickey (Galway Bay) 70 72, R Moran (Castle) 67 75;
143 C Denvir (Elm Park) 75 68, D Shiel (Powerscourt) 74 69, A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 74 69, C Byrne (Strabane) 72 71, J Rackard (Enniscorthy) 72 71, R McNelis (Fintona) 72 71, S Carter (Royal Dublin) 70 73;
144 S Kenneally (Kinsale) 75 69, L O'Neill (Connemara) 74 70, P Buckley (Cork) 73 71, C Butler (Kinsale) 73 71, G Rochford (Bray) 72 72, R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 72 72, H Foley (Royal Dublin) 72 72, A Kiernan (Forrest Little) 70 74, D Kitt (Athenry) 70 74, D Marshall (Naas) 66 78;
145 K Crowley (Fota Island) 75 70, T Dowdall (Woodbrook) 75 70, I Lynch (Rosslare) 74 71, D McMahon (Castletroy) 73 72, J Robinson (Lisburn) 73 72, R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 73 72, A O'Callaghan (Tralee) 72 73, C Nolan (Portmarnock) 72 73, A Mulholland (Castlerock) 71 74, M Mullen (Rosslare) 71 74;
146 T Plunkett (Crover House) 77 69, J Foley (Elm Park) 76 70,

Non-qualifiers
146
S Downes (Royal Dublin) 75 71, D Byrne (The Els Club Dubai) 75 71, R O'Doherty (Enniscrone) 74 72, L Nolan (Galway) 73 73, P Coughlan (Castleknock) 73 73, J Rowe (Belvoir Park) 73 73, G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 73 73, K Bornemann (Douglas) 72 74, L O'Connor (Edmondstown) 72 74, B Smyth (Howth) 72 74, A Ryan (Thurles) 72 74, R Latimer (Knock) 71 75, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 71 75, C Cunningham (Carton House) 71 75, S Flanagan (Portmarnock) 71 75, S Loftus (Lahinch) 70 76, R Walsh Jnr (Douglas) 69 77;
147 J Cleary (Elm Park) 76 71, J McCabe (Roganstown) 76 71, N McCann (Lurgan) 75 72, D O'Riordan (Fermoy) 74 73, P Murray (Clontarf) 74 73, E O'Donnell (Tralee) 74 73, S Mc Dermott (Slieve Russell) 73 74, R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar GC) 73 74, F Kennedy (The Island) 73 74, R McCrory (Lurgan) 73 74, J Blake (The Island) 73 74, J Hanney (The Island) 73 74, A Smith (Mullingar) 72 75;
148 C Rabbette (Esker Hills) 77 71, C Vaughan (Limerick) 76 72, E Murphy (Dundalk) 76 72, A McCormack (Castletroy) 76 72, C Rafferty (Dundalk) 75 73, R McCrudden (Royal Portrush) 74 74, S O'Neill (Co. Cavan) 74 74, T McLarnon (Massereene) 73 75;
149 E Magill (East Clare) 79 70, J Egan (Muskerry) 77 72, R Kennelly (Portmarnock) 76 73, E Farrell (Ardee) 74 75, A Hill (Athenry) 70 79;
150 N Hearns (Mountrath) 79 71, C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 78 72, S O'Connell (Athenry) 76 74, J Law (East Cork) 75 75;
151 G Bohill (Co. Louth) 77 74, C Cooley (Belvoir Park) 76 75, J Mackin (Dundalk) 74 77, P Sheehan (Ballybunion) 74 77, O O'Brien (Limerick) 73 78;
152 P Carey (Nenagh) 76 76, G Ward (Kinsale) 74 78, L Cunningham (Galway Bay) 73 79, J Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 72 80, P McGrath (Galway Bay) 71 81;
153 M O'Kelly (Limerick) 81 72, C Kelly (Athlone) 78 75, M Norton (Belvoir Park) 76 77, T Finnegan (Co. Sligo) 75 78, S Desmond (Monkstown) 75 78, F O'Sullivan (Tralee) 74 79, M Buggy (Castlecomer) 73 80;
154 H Gillivan (Westport) 80 74, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 79 75, C Plower (Galway Bay) 78 76, S Hogan (Nenagh) 74 80;
155 J Cunningham (Carton House) 77 78, N O'Loughlin (Druids Glen) 76 79, P Flynn (Tramore) 75 80, A Kelly (The Heritage) 75 80;
156 G O'Flaherty (Cork) 79 77;
157 T O'Leary (Rosslare) 79 78, J O'Riordan (Dungarvan) 77 80;
158 D Leufer (Athenry) 81 77, P Tobin (Douglas) 79 79, D Keating (Seapoint) 79 79;
159 B Murray (Waterford Castle) 81 78, D Kelleher (Blarney) 80 79;
160 P O'Hara (Kilkenny) 79 81, G O'Mahony (Fota Island) 78 82; 164L Abom (Edmondstown) 80 84;
170 S McDermott (Esker Hills) 84 86
NR R Ward (Nenagh) 83 NR
RTD J Greene (Portmarnock) 73 Rtd.

First round tee-times

07:00 M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) v J Foley (Elm Park);
07:09 E Sullivan (Carton House) v G Collins (Rosslare);
07:18 D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) v H Foley (Royal Dublin);
07:27 J Whelan (Grange) v R Knightly (Royal Dublin);
07:36 K Murphy (Arklow) v J Robinson (Lisburn);
07:45 J McDonnell (Forrest Little) v J Rackard (Enniscorthy);
07:54 R Galligan (Elm Park) v D McMahon (Castletroy);
08:03 TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) v R McNelis (Fintona);
08:12 S Murphy (Portumna) v A Mulholland (Castlerock);
08:21 J Hewitt (Tandragee) v C Denvir (Elm Park);
08:30 C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) V D Marshall Jnr (Naas)
08:39 E Shipp (Headfort) v P Buckley (Cork);
08:48 D O’Sullivan (Tralee) v C Nolan (Portmarnock);
08:57 J Hood (Galgorm Castle) v D Shiel (Powerscourt);
09:06 H O’Hare (Fortwilliam) v K Crowley (Fota Island);
09:15 S Carroll (Ballybunion) v L O’Neill (Connemara);
09:24 T O’Connor (Athlone) v T Plunkett (Crover House);
09:33 J Doherty (Carton House) v A Hickey (Galway Bay);
09:42 A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown) v A Kiernan (Forrest Little)
09:51 K Egan (Carton House) v G Rochford (Bray);
10:00 M McClean (Malone) v R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire);
10:09 R Cannon (Balbriggan) v C Byrne (Strabane);
10:18 P Conroy (Enniscorthy) v I Lynch (Rosslare);
10:27 S Walker (Roscommon) v S Carter (Royal Dublin);
10:36 J Hill (Galgorm Castle) v M Mullen (Rosslare);
10:45 J Lyons (Galway) v R Moran (Castle);
10:54 P O’Keeffe (Douglas) v D Kitt (Athenry);
11:03 K McCarron (North West) v C Butler (Kinsale);
11:12 M Boucher (Carton House) v A O’Callaghan (Tralee);
11:21 C Hickey (Dooks) v A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire);
11:30 D Flynn (Carton House) v T Dowdall (Woodbrook);
11:39 A Marshall (Lisburn) v S Kenneally (Kinsale).

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