Sugrue heroics inspire Brazill ahead of Close bid
Naas ace Robert Brazill admits James Sugrue's Amateur Championship victory has given him a massive boost in confidence as he begins his quest for AIG Irish Amateur Close glory at Ballybunion today.
The 2018 West of Ireland champion lies second in the Bridgestone Order of Merit after a brilliant campaign and looks set to win one of three Irish caps awarded to the top three after next week's final-counting Mullingar Scratch Trophy.
But after finishing fifth in the 'West', fourth in the 'East' and third after a run to the semi-finals in the 'North', he wants to join Mallow star Sugrue in the winner's circle and claim his first cap in next month's Home Internationals at Lahinch as Irish champion.
"At this point, I'd love to go on and win the Order of Merit," said Brazill, who tees off at 2.50pm and should not be affected by a first-tee delay expected at midday to avoid disrupting a burial at Killehenny Cemetery, which famously runs alongside the first fairway at the Old Course.
"It would be nice to get my name on that and get my place for the Home Internationals. I haven't had a win since the West, and I am itching for a win."
Order of Merit leader Conor Purcell is one of the big absentees alongside Sugrue and Caolan Rafferty, who are preparing to jet out for the US Amateur. But Brazill admits that watching Sugrue win the Amateur at Portmarnock and then tee it up in The Open has given him more confidence in his own game.
"After James won The Amateur, it was a bit of an eye-opener for me," Brazill said. "I can go out there any day with him and give him a good run for his money. His win has given me confidence. There are days when he can beat me by five, there are days when I can beat him five. To get a win of that calibre shows that we can win those tournaments."
The leading 64 after 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying will make Monday's matchplay draw.