Editor's Note: Article by Golfing Union of Ireland
Champion Robert Brazill is all smiles
(Golfing Union of Ireland Photo)
COUNTRY SLIGO, Ireland (April 3, 2018) - Robert Brazill survived a test of stamina and nerve to win the West of Ireland Championship at Co Sligo.
The 21-year-old from Naas showed his mettle on the 18th green, holing from 10 feet for a one-hole victory against Irish international Alex Gleeson. As well as capturing the biggest title of his career, Brazill has the added bonus of an early lead in the Bridgestone Order of Merit.
"That's the best golf I've played in a long, long time," said Brazill, who completed his round in three under par. Considering the heavy rain that fell throughout the final day, it was no mean feat.
That he birdied the last to keep Gleeson at bay was further testament to the quality of Brazill's performance.
"It's absolutely unbelievable," said the winner. "I never thought I would get to here, especially at this stage. I've put a lot of work in this winter."
Playing his first championship final, Brazill was confident and composed as he powered his way to glory. On the back nine he took control, winning the 12th and the 14th to pull two clear.
"I think the 12th was a massive one," the winner reflected.
A superb drive put him in position to reach the par five with an iron. After running an eagle putt close, the hole was his when Gleeson failed to get up and down for birdie.
The match had been all square from the eighth. Gleeson birdied seven to nudge ahead but conceded ground at the next when he made bogey.
Gleeson's title quest suffered another setback at 14 when he found trouble off the tee. Forced to take a penalty drop, Gleeson lost another hole to par. The championship was now slipping from his grasp.
There was at least a small reprieve when Brazill missed a putt to go three clear on 15. And when Brazill went left on 16, Gleeson made sure to find the green. Playing 17 the gap was just one hole. On the penultimate green, Brazill had a putt for the championship but his ball stayed above ground.
It all hinged on the final hole. Both players thumped their drives down the middle meaning Gleeson would need a birdie to have any hope.
And while he managed just that, Brazill followed suit.
"I hammered it in the back," said Brazill, describing the winning putt.
With this victory, he joins a growing list of winners from Naas, the third in six years after Jack Hume (2014) and Jonathan Yates (2016).
For the beaten finalist, there were no recriminations.
"It's disappointing now but I put in a good showing," said Gleeson. "I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. This is a really good start. I had never made it to Monday before at the West so to make it all the way to the final game was really something for me and I can take a lot of positives from this week."
Brazill and Gleeson now occupy the top two positions in the Bridgestone Order of Merit, which puts them in the frame for automatic selection on the Ireland team at this year's Home Internationals. There are seven more events to be played in the Bridgestone series. Next up is the Munster Stroke Play at Cork from 5-6 May.
ABOUT THE West of Ireland Open Amateur
From 1923 through 2018, the West of Ireland was a
match play tournament but the format was switched
72 holes of stroke play in 2019. Originally held in
it was moved to coincide with Easter but now it is
played in early April to open the Irish
competitive calendar each year.
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