URBANA — Turning 25 last year was a big birthday for David Keenan. At least where golfing is concerned.
It meant the former Parkland and Salt Fork standout could now compete in mid-amateur golf tournaments.
The 25-and-older series allows post-college amateur golfers to earn some pretty big perks. The winner of the United States Mid-Amateur Championship in mid-September in Parker, Colo., earns a qualifying spot into the 2020 Masters and 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
While Keenan’s work schedule has cut into his golfing time this month, he’s got an even busier few weeks ahead of him on the golf course.
Keenan will play in a USGA Mid-Am qualifier at Crestwicke Country Club in Bloomington on Aug. 19 in an attempt to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Am. He is currently an alternate for the Illinois State Mid-Am Championship on Aug. 20 and 21 in Aurora.
“It hasn’t really gone the way I had hoped it would at the state or national level, but I’ve got the upcoming USGA event so I am kind of gearing up for that,” Keenan said. Playing mid-amateur golf “is something that I’ve had my sights on for a while now.”
In the meantime, Keenan — who shot a 9-under 63 for his lowest-ever competitive round over the final 18 holes of last month’s 66th UI Open in Savoy, winning the event in a tournament-record total of 11-under 133 — returns to the course this weekend at the Twin City Tournament.
The two-day, 54-hole stroke play event begins Saturday at Urbana Country Club with 18 holes before concluding on Sunday with 36 holes at the Champaign Country Club.
Defending champion Varun Chopra, the former Uni High standout and rising junior on the Illinois men’s golf team, won’t play in this year’s tournament. Which could leave the door open for Keenan to continue his strong play on local courses this weekend.
“I’ve always been a fan of it,” Keenan said of the event, which will also include five-time UI Open winner Tim Hoss Jr. and Parkland men’s golf coach Corbin Sebens, among others. “I’m from Catlin and we had our own city tournament there up until I want to say 2013 or ‘14. That was always one of my favorite tournaments. You just loved the camaraderie within the golf tournament in the town and that’s something that I have seen here with having gotten the chance to play in (the Twin City) before. It’s just fun to get out there and play with everybody else who loves this game as much as I do.”
Want to know how much Keenan loves golf? His dog, a 2-year-old pug, is named Augusta National, an ode to the famous golf course that hosts the Masters in Augusta, Ga.
He gets 18 holes in about 2-3 times per week and may hit the putting green for 20-30 minutes after finishing up the day job around 5 p.m. He works at the Ware Group in Champaign, a supplemental work benefits agency.
“I guess I’ve had to manage my schedule more, trying to get more of my work done a little earlier so I can at least be out to the course by 5 or so and trying to still find time for the gym in the morning,” Keenan said. “It’s hard to juggle but it’s the same for everyone else.”
Seeking to sweep both the UI Open and Twin City Tournament this summer, Keenan said he’s not looking that far ahead. He had a hard time remembering all the details from his final round during the UI Open at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy.
En route to shooting a course-record 63 in the final round, Keenan admits his putter got hot.
“Well, golf’s just one of those games where it tantalizes you,” Keenan said. “You always think that a round like that is out there, but when it actually happens, it’s funny how you are not even thinking about it when you are going through it.
“You are just very much in the moment and going with the flow of things. I basically just made a lot of putts and kind of stayed steady the entire round and didn’t really think about it while I was going through it. It was more, ‘OK, what’s my next shot?’ And rinse and repeat.”