Peter O’Keeffe with strength and conditioning coach Luke Dennehy at his gym in Ballincollig, Cork. Picture: Brian LougheedPeter O’Keeffe would love to have travelled to Africa for this week’s Barclays Kenya Open. Instead he’s busy studying for his PGA qualiifactions and working hard on his pre-season training in the hope of winning a European Challenge Tour title in 2013.

While the Douglas man is not in action in Nairobi, where Gareth Shaw and Niall Kearney opened with one over par 72s to lie six shots behind Austria’s HP Bacher, the 31 year-old believes he is physically and mentally fitter than ever and ready for a tough six months on tour.

Having sampled life on the circuit in 2008 and 2009, he knows the importance of fitness and decided to hired a professional golf fitness coach to take him to the next level.

He’s been working with Luke Dennehy of Dennehy’s Health and Fitness in Ballincollig for the past six months, completely transforming his physical training routine, while also working on the mental side of his game.

As a result, he made to last season’s European Tour Q-School Finals in Catalonia, failing to win a full card but still earning the right to play on the Challenge Tour again this year, albeit with limited starts.

“The training I do with Luke Dennehy is so advanced and it relates directly to my golf, which is hugely important for me”, O’Keeffe said of his work with his coach who holds a PGA-recognised Fitness for Golf qualification.

Dennehy, who is one of only a few fitness coaches in the country to have this qualification, did his training in Philadelphia with the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and he is hoping to add to this qualification next month when he will either travel to Germany or the UK for more TPI training, focussing on swing analysis.

“There are only a few coaches in the country that have my qualification, and most of those guys would be golf professionals who coach golf,” Dennehy said.

“My background would be performance enhancement – that’s my original qualification. Going to Titleist and working with them helps me apply my fitness expertise to golfers.”

O’Keeffe explained: “For this type of training to be available to me here in Cork is so invaluable. Luke is excellent at what he does, so versatile, and has something new for me everyday to keep things fresh.

“The gym is also a fantastic facility so overall it’s an ideal set up for me to learn and improve. I began working with Luke midway through last season, and it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

“Basically, I heard he was part of TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) and that immediately caught my interest. We train together five times a week, and although at the beginning it took a lot of hard work, especially the work I do on a swiss ball, I am now used to it and enjoying the challenge, but this particular exercise took a lot of getting used to, and a few bad falls but at the end of the day it helped me hugely.”

The Swiss ball training is new to Peter and it’s an exercise designed by Luke to help him become more balanced and stronger on his feet when he drives the ball.

“It’s like building a house, you need a solid foundation before you do anything else,” Dennehy added.

“I start training from the bottom and work my way up. Ankle stability is the number one thing I work with.

Stability is a big part of Peter O’Keeffe’s training. Picture: Brian Lougheed“If the ankle stability is wrong, everything else can be affected. From the moment you swing, if you’re stability isn’t right it can throw your core body position off balance.

“When working with Peter, who has a large frame and is 6ft4, there are specific training drills needed to be done.

“In golf we know there’s no such thing as the perfect swing, but what we can do is train the golfer’s body so that he gets the most efficient swing for his body.”

Back in Kenya, an eagle and a birdie in the opening three holes helped leader Bacher card a five under par 66 and lead by a shot from England’s Tom Murray, Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and Scotland’s Raymond Russell.

Kearney and Shaw both endured disappointing finishes to their opening rounds at Karen Country Club.

The Dubliner was one under with four to play but bogeyed his 15th and 16th to finish the day tied for 53rd with Shaw.

The Lurgan man came back from two over after seven with three birdies in the middle of his round but bogeyed the 16th and 18th.

Barclays Kenya Open 2013, after round one

66 H Bacher (Aut),

67 T Murray (Eng), A Otaegui (Esp), R Russell (Sco),

68 A McArthur (Sco), M Ford (Eng), G Snow (Ken), D Law (Sco), S Hutsby (Eng), G Murray (Sco),

69 P Uihlein (USA), B An (Kor), T Hatton (Eng), S O’Hara (Sco), T Sluiter (Ned), W Besseling (Ned), D Indiza (Ken), C Brazillier (Fra), J Garcia Pinto (Esp), P Archer (Eng),

70 D Kemmer (USA), J Lima (Por), B Koepka (USA), J Gibb (Eng), N Ngugi (Ken), J Fahrbring (Swe), P Oriol (Esp), B Hebert (Fra), L Bjerregaard (Den), G Stal (Fra), A Pavan (Ita),

71 D Im (USA), J Van Tonder (RSA), F Bergamaschi (Ita), D Odhiambo (Ken), P Edberg (Swe), M Crespi (Ita), T Nørret (Den), D Frittelli (RSA), E Dubois (Fra), M Mandhu (Zim), D Denison (Eng), A Shah (Ken), V Riu (Fra), N Mudanyi (Ken), J Ruth (Eng), P Relecom (Bel), J Moul (Eng), C Aguilar (Esp), J Huldahl (Den), J Barnes (Eng), M Glauert (Ger),

72 S Walker (Eng), S Jeppesen (Swe), A Velasco (Esp), S Manley (Wal), J Senior (Eng), K Timbe (Ken), Niall Kearney (Irl), T Fournier (Fra), S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), J Legarrea (Esp), M Muthiya (Zam), Gareth Shaw (Nir),

73 F Colombo (Ita), B Parker (Eng), N Ravano (Ita), J Timmis (Eng), M Sell (Eng), N Floren (Swe), S Brown (Eng), D Vancsik (Arg), B Ritthammer (Ger), R Hjelm (Den), D Wuensche (Ger), R Davies (Wal), B Njoroge (Ken), S Engell Andersen (Ken), J Howarth (Eng), A Bernadet (Fra),

74 M Haastrup (Den), P Dwyer (Eng), J Dantorp (Swe), J McLeary (Sco), N Elvira (Esp), J Lando Casanova (Fra), S Tiley (Eng), L Kennedy (Eng), C Ford (Eng), D Akope (Uga), G Giddie (Ken), C Suneson (Esp), N Simwa (am) (Ken),

75 D Stewart (Sco), C Gane (Eng), L Claverie (Esp), R Enoch (Wal), A Rota (Ita), L Goddard (Eng), J Van Der Walt (RSA), J Muigai (Ken), S Ngige (Ken), D Griffiths (Eng), C Hanson (Eng), C Russo (Fra), W Booth (Sco), M Zions (Aus), D Perrier (Fra), A Horne (Swz), F Kimani (am) (Ken),

76 K Borsheim (Nor), J Maurer (Aut), R Charania (Ken), L Saltman (Sco), N Quintarelli (Ita), A Domingo (Esp), B Simwa (Ken), J Wahlqvist (Swe), S Muthugia (Ken), M Kramer (Ger), C Wangai (Ken), G Houston (Wal), P Thuo (Ken),

77 K Abuto (Ken), F Laporta (Ita), F De Vries (Ned), H Kadio (Tan), R Ainley (Ken), D Wakhu (Ken), O Rozner (Fra), F Calmels (Fra), D Opati (Ken), N Meitinger (Ger),

78 A Kimani (Ken), G Cambis (Fra), J Kagiri (Ken), J Abbott (Eng), R Kellett (Sco), M Novy (Cze), D Palm (Swe),

79 M Haremza (Ger), J Watts (Eng), M Omondi (am) (Ken), T Omuli (am) (Ken),

80 H Kutwa (Ken), J Glennemo (Swe), J Okello (Ken), A Perrino (Ita), J Sandhu (am) (Ken), J Madoya (am) (Ken),

81 A Shah (Ken),

83 H Mutawe (Uga),

84 E Ruterena (Rwa), Å Nilsson (Swe),

** M Haines (Eng), N Rokoine (Ken),