WARRNAMBOOL-based golf professional Dylan O’Keeffe was yesterday afforded a rare opportunity to play at Australia’s premier golf course, but the 22-year-old is now focusing on the future.
Finishing 16th after a two-over-par 74 in yesterday’s Royal Melbourne Purse, O’Keeffe now has his sights set on a trip to Queensland in July.
He’ll face warmer weather and heated competition, having been left bereft of tournament play after Victorian events dried up.
“For me this year’s about experience,” O’Keeffe said. “Obviously I want to go up there and play well. Because I haven’t played a tournament for three months, I’m looking forward to getting up there and actually playing some competitive rounds of golf again.
“There’s three tournaments with really good prizemoney, all worth over $60,000, and four-rounders.”
Completing his PGA traineeship last year and missing out on his tour card in December, O’Keeffe has been bound to one-day events and pro-ams.
“I don’t get an opportunity to play in a lot of four-rounders, so here’s an opportunity for me to play in them,” he said.
“That’s the main reason for me going up to Queensland. It leads into the Aussie summer and gives me the opportunity to play some four-rounders.
“I hope to go over to Kalgoorlie and play the Western Australian PGA and then obviously I’ll try and pre-qualify for the (Australian) Masters later in the year and possibly play another four-rounder, depending on sponsorship.”
It’s the issue of sponsorship that continues to linger for O’Keeffe, who needs financial support to give himself the best opportunity to reach his potential.
“In the Aussie summer I’ll hopefully have Masters pre-chop (pre-qualifying), then I’ll have tour school in December, then hopefully next February — again depending on sponsorship — I’d like to go to Asian tour school.” Yesterday’s event at Royal Melbourne will hold him in good stead for the challenges of professional golf and tournament golf at its purest.
“You’ve got to know where to hit it around here,” O’Keeffe said.
“I was hitting fairways, hitting greens, two-putting. Obviously I’d never seen the course before, so I didn’t really know where I was hitting it.
“I took double (bogey) down the 17th. I didn’t look at my notes. It caught the fairway but then fed off to the right into a tree.”
A closing bogey at 18 left a sour note on an otherwise enjoyable day for O’Keeffe, which was his final event in Victoria before heading north.