Ronan Mullarney (Golfing Union of Ireland photo)
It was anything but a runaway victory, but nevertheless, Ronan Mullarney is the Irish Amateur Close champion. The Galway player defeated Rob Brazill by just one hole at Ballybunion.
Mullarney, 23, never trailed and though he stumbled at 17, missing a six-foot putt to win the match, Mullarney emerged triumphant on 18 when Brazill failed to birdie.
"I am absolutely delighted," Mullarney gushed. "It did absolutely grate on me that I haven't won one of these before. I am delighted."
For Mullarney, this was his first experience playing in the final match of a major amateur championship. He played brilliant golf on a postcard day at Ballybunion, but made a critical error at No. 17. He was pin high there, but three-putted for a bogey. Brazill was in the rough, but he scrambled for a par to cut Mullarney’s lead from 2 up to 1 up and give himself a shot at the closing hole.
At No. 18, Brazill landed 60 yards short of the green. Mullarney, adopting the same cautious approach that served him well all day, found the fairway with an iron. He planted his second shot squarely on the center of the green.
Brazill’s approach stopped 15 feet short, giving him far from an outside chance. Mullarney secured his par with ease but watched tensely what Brazill could do.
"I was certain that putt was in on 18," Brazill said ruefully. "It would have been nice to make the birdie."
When that final try failed, Brazill flung his putter into mid-air.
"I knew Ronan was never going to make a mistake," Brazill said. "He just doesn't hit it off line. He knows where it's going every single time. I know I am capable of a two-way miss, even with an iron. I don't think he knows what a miss is and he's a really good putter. He's such a hard man to play against. You really want to be on your game if you're playing him."
Information from the Golf Union of Ireland used in this report
ABOUT THE Irish Amateur Close
The tournament is open to all Clubs affiliated
to the Golfing Union of Ireland. Format is 64-player
match play, preceded by a 36-hole stroke play
View Complete Tournament Information