Colm Campbell (Irish Examiner)
Golf can be cruel. Peter O'Keeffe knows that all too well after Colm Campbell won the final three holes of the South of Ireland final to down a two hole deficit into a 1-up victory.
The Irish weather was worse than even the stereotypes might make anyone imagine. Described as hurricane-like, the wind and rain played a massive role in the entire week of competition.
Campbell made quick work of his semi-final opponent on Sunday morning, beating Paul Coughlan 6&5. After racing out to a 4-up lead after seven holes, Campbell closed out the match early. He shot 7-under par in the 13-hole match.
The rest might have paid off for Campbell. Peter O'Keeffe had to go the distance on Sunday morning against Jack Hearn. Battling the elements can catch up with any golfer.
Jack Hearn and O'Keeffe played a semi-final match befitting their seeds and how they played all week.
After two holes, Hearn was 2 up, but he didn't win another hole until the 12th. In the meantime, O'Keeffe had won hole Nos. 6,9, and 11. The match was tied through 12, and when O'Keeffe claimed the lead on the 13th hole, the pair tied the five closing holes, granting O'Keeffe a 1-up victory to play in the final for a second straight year.
There was a lot riding on playing well this week for O'Keeffe, as a spot on the Home Internationals Irish team would be secured with a victory. It didn't seem likely any other result would earn him a spot. The Walker Cup is also very much on everyone's mind, and O'Keeffe is also on the short list to compete at St. Andrews for the GB&I in September.
The final match was one that O'Keeffe controlled from the jump. He won three holes on the front and they made the turn with O'Keeffe 2 up. The pair split the first three holes on the back nine before Campbell one his second hole of the day on the 13th. However, O'Keeffe punched right back and won the 14th hole to get his 2-hole lead back.
Both players made a five on the 15th hole, and it was looking like Campbell might run out of holes.
Instead, Campbell won the par-3 16th with a bogey. O’Keeffe hit his tee shot in the hill back left and shanked his second back down the fairway. He ran his bogey putt along the edge leaving Campbell to two putt for bogey to reduce the gap to one hole.
O'Keeffe hit his drive on the 17th out of bounds. Suddenly, the match was tied for the first time since the duo stood on the first green.
O'Keeffe pulled his two iron out of bounds on the 18th hole. Campbell's score of five was good enough to win the match 1 up.
"That was a tough one,” Campbell said. “First of all, I feel sorry for big Peter there. You know two up with three to play… it's never nice to lose in the manner which ended up happening there."
This is Campbell's first South of Ireland victory. In May, he won the Irish Amateur Open.
ABOUT THE South of Ireland Amateur
Match play tournament with 192 players
and 64 receiving first-round byes. Played since 1895
the Alister MacKenzie
designed Lahinch Golf Club.
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