Tuesday 20 August 2019

Brazill gets creative in Ballybunion breeze

Robert Brazil. Photo: Golffile | Fran Caffrey
Robert Brazil. Photo: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Brian Keogh

Naas star Robert Brazill believes a vivid imagination is the key to rounding off a stellar season with victory in the AIG Irish Amateur Close at Ballybunion.

The powerful Kildare man (22) faces Dún Laoghaire's Alan Fahy in the semi-finals on the Old Course today and the chance to face leading qualifier Ronan Mullarney or Elm Park teenager Charlie Denvir (18) in the final.

Galway talent Mullarney (23) looks like the clear favourite to go all the way and clinch his maiden championship after a clinical two-holes win over Co Sligo's Seán Flanagan. But Brazill reckons he has the creativity to roll with the punches at a venue where 50kph gusts force players to dig deep to beat the wind.

"It's how many good shots you can hit," Brazill said after following a two-holes win over Oughterard's Devin Morley with a hard-fought 4&2 victory over Kinsale's Cathal Butler.

"It's about how many fun shots you can play. Imagination plays a huge part here. I hit a seven-iron from 110 yards today whereas that's usually a sand wedge. You have to keep it as close to the ground as possible."

Brazill is on target to top the Bridgestone Order of Merit which will award caps to the top three points winners following next weekend's Mullingar Scratch Trophy.

But he wants to seal his first Irish cap with a win, insisting: "It would be massive to win this. It would be nice to call yourself an Irish champion."

He faces a tough match with 2018 Munster Strokeplay winner Fahy (21), who beat the up-and-coming Dundalk star Eoin Murphy 3&1.

But it will be equally tough for Mullarney against former Boys international Denvir, who birdied the 19th from 12 feet to beat Ballybunion's Ed Stack in front of a big gallery.

Mullarney beat Mountrath's Niall Hearns 5&4 before his razor-sharp short game proved the difference against Co Sligo's Flanagan.

It was the first time he had been taken beyond the 15th all week but he knows that Ballybunion's wind-buffeted links will have the last say.

"It's brilliant," he said. "I love the course. It was completely different to what I expected but in a good way. It is quirky and punishing. You are not going to get away with bad shots."

Irish Independent

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