HEARTBREAK AT THE BRABAZON: Liam Nolan wins playoff over comeback kid Zack Little
Brabazon Trophy winner Liam Nolan (England Golf photo)
Brabazon Trophy winner Liam Nolan (England Golf photo)

A 59-alert flashed this morning at England's Sunningdale Golf Club, as English teenager Zach Little rattled off a string of five-straight birdies on the front nine en route to a 29. Without a single blemish coming home, Little carded a back nine 34 for a round of 7-under 63, just one off the course record of 62.

Then it was the waiting game. And it looked good for an outright victory from the unlikely leader until the very last group of two Irish golfers approached the 18th tee. Liam Nolan, the winner of the South American Amateur and a GB&I Walker Cup hopeful, knew exactly what he had to do on the reachable par-5 of 488 yards. But even with the tying birdie, it would take three extra holes to grab the trophy out of the hands from England's Zach Little.


Sean Keeling of Ireland played the first 54 holes at 6-under, never going over par and looking like a runaway winner. But tight courses with tricky greens can bite back.

As the Irish bogeyed the first three holes, the landscape of the tournament had suddenly done a complete 180. And although he settled down with a birdie on No. 6, Keeling again bogeyed at Nos. 7 and 8 and dropped out of the lead, taking himself out of the running for good with a triple-bogey on No. 1.

But Keeling's countryman Liam Nolan (Galway, Ireland) -- playing alongside him in the final group -- worked himself within a shot after posting 1-under 34 on the front nine.

Zach Little was all smiles after shooting 63
Little watched player after player finish, without matching his tournament total of 3-under par. James Claridge of England birdied No. 18 to get to 2-under. One bullet dodged.

But Nolan refused to give up. Standing on the par-5 18th tee at 2-under, he was a birdie away from forcing a playoff on the 488-yard hole. He got it with a deft up-and-down, and just like that, a person who held the lead for more than two hours after a stunning round would have to go out and face someone coming off a birdie.

Nolan's short game was again on display in the playoff. According to IrishGolfer.ie:

"Both players were inches away from birdieing the first hole in the playoff before Nolan almost holed out from the back of the green with a superb pitch on 18 as they headed for the third sudden-death hole and the 1st hole. It was another deadly chip from Nolan which sealed the biggest win of his amateur career as he left a chip from just short of the 75th green stone dead before Little saw his par putt lip out from six-feet."

As Nolan looked at the trophy, the magnitude of the win began to sink in.

"The name and the history of Sunningdale Golf Club makes it one of the coolest places to win a golf tournament," he said. "There have been a lot of really good winners here in the past and to put my name on this trophy is amazing."


The 2023 English Open Stroke Play Championship is being played this year Sunningdale Golf Club's New Course. But keep in mind "new" is all relative. It is 22 years newer than the original Willie Park Old Course, but with a 1923 opening date, it would be considered anything but new by most golf fans as the Harry Colt design celebrates 100 years of golf. The New Course is a precision layout, with its narrow, winding fairways bordered by penal heather. Small and often raised greens add to the challenge.

Results: Brabazon Trophy
1IrelandLiam NolanIreland120072-70-67-68=277
2EnglandZach LittleEngland90070-73-71-63=277
3EnglandJames ClaridgeEngland70070-71-70-67=278
T4EnglandJake PlumbEngland70072-72-69-67=280
T4IrelandSean KeelingIreland70065-70-69-76=280

View full results for Brabazon Trophy

ABOUT THE Brabazon Trophy

The Brabazon Trophy is the English Men's Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship and is open to male amateur golfers of all nationalities.

The Championship is played by 72 holes of stroke play over four days and will be contested by 144 competitors, consisting of exempt players and those who have progressed through qualifying. 18 holes are played on each of the first two days. After 36 holes the leading 60 competitors and all those tying for 60th place shall play a further 18 holes on the third day, followed by a re-draw and a final 18 holes on the fourth day.

View Complete Tournament Information

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