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Keeling hoping to build on Irish Boys’ success and lift a maiden men’s title – Irish Golfer Magazine


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Seán Keeling is determined to etch his name onto a men’s trophy this season after conquering Ballybunion as he lifted the Flogas Irish Amateur Boys’ Championship.

Keeling cruised to a seven-shot victory as stormy winds halted play after 36 holes and the Roganstown star now adds the Irish title to his Scottish Boys and Ulster and Connacht Boys crowns.

The seventeen-year-old has become dominant at Boys’ level and his big goal for the 2024 season is to win a men’s title.

Growing up in the Made in Holywood Golf Academy, Keeling has been competing against older players his entire life. He made his men’s major championship debut aged just 12 at the North of Ireland Championship in Royal Portrush and he is gunning to shock the big lads again.

“Geoff Loughrey (coach) always had the mindset to throw you in the deep end because that’s how you learn,” Keeling recalls.

“It’s been great for my game because I’m going back and I feel comfortable playing these events and I feel like I’m ready to do well and compete and win, so being there at a young age helps.

“I did OK the first day I shot five-over and then the second day maybe eight-over, I missed the cut but I was pretty happy to be playing.

“I relished it to be honest,” he claims. “I loved it. I had my cousin on the bag and it was just really fun at that age, you enjoy every moment and try and do as well as you can.

“I want to be consistent and put myself in contention as much as I can. If I do that I’ll get a win eventually so it’s about getting into position to try and make the breakthrough.”

Since that day in Portrush five years ago, Keeling has continued to progress and he has left his mark at senior level.

Keeling shocked a top-class field at County Louth in 2022 by winning the Regional Qualifier for The Open Championship, has backed up that performance throughout 2023 to become one of Europe’s top young players.

Keeling very nearly got his hands on a men’s trophy at last year’s Brabazon Trophy, which was eventually won by Galway’s Liam Nolan.

Aged just 16 at the time, Keeling carried a four-shot lead into the final day before finishing fourth after a closing 76.

It could prove to be a blessing in disguise as he feels more mentally prepared and battle hardened to grasp his next opportunity.

“That was the first time I was in that position with a chance to win and a big lead in a big event,” reflects Keeling.

“It was new territory for me and maybe when you are in that position you have to move forward and set a scoring target for yourself and not hold on to your lead. Try and do what you’re doing rather than look back at other guys and see what they’re doing.

“I was pretty disappointed at the time but that’s how you learn by putting yourself in those positions. You learn more when you lose so it’s about using it as something positive instead of getting wrapped up in the negativity of losing or throwing it away. I learned a lot from that day so it can help me if I’m in that position again.

“I want to improve my overall game and try and get a few wins under my belt. Just to have an overall consistent year would be nice,” adds Keeling.

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