Cork's Peter O'Keeffe begins defence of Close title

Ireland’s best men’s amateur golfers will tee off on the New Course at Headfort Golf Club
Cork's Peter O'Keeffe begins defence of Close title

Irish international Matthew McClean, from Malone GC, is among the contenders for the Irish Close. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Defending champion Peter O’Keeffe is part of a very strong field, with former champions Hugh Foley, Robbie Cannon and Paul O’Hanlon who will contest one of the most prestigious prizes in Irish golf this weekend.

The New Course at Headford will play host to 144 of Ireland’s best men’s amateur golfers in the AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close Championship.  

Five members of Ireland’s Home Internationals team that finished in second place last week in Ballyliffin, will also be competing.

Matthew McClean was part of the Home Internationals team and was this week named on the Ireland team for the World Amateur Team Championships. The Belfast golfer helped launch this year’s Championship, from his home club at Malone.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, McClean said he was looking forward to competing in Headfort.

“It’s the last big event in Ireland this year. I like playing parkland golf and I’m playing with Hugh Foley and Jack McDonnell for the first two days, so it’ll be a good event.

“I’m in good form at the minute. I played well in Ballyliffin last week. It’s all about getting some practice in, and going in with the same positive attitude I do every week.” 

Play begins on Saturday morning and after 36 holes the top 64 players will advance to the Match Play on Monday morning, with a winner crowned on Wednesday evening.

The competition was first played in 1893 and former winners include five major champions - Darren Clarke (1990),


Harrington (1995), Graeme McDowell (2000), Rory McIlroy (2005 and 2006) and Shane Lowry (2007).

AIG already sponsor a number of prominent Golf Ireland tournaments and competitions and are also the long-standing sponsor of the biggest amateur golf competition in Ireland, the AIG Men’s and Women’s Cups and Shields tournaments that involves every club across Ireland.

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