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 the 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 certain to win one of three Irish caps awarded to the top three points winners 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 semifinals 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 200 yards of 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. I would feel like I missed out on something if I didn't get a win this season."
Order of Merit leader Purcell is one of the big absentees alongside Sugrue and Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty, who are preparing to jet out for the US Amateur at Pinehurst.
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.
AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship, Ballybunion GC
(07:45/12:00) C Feeney (Co Sligo), J Keane (Lahinch), C Glennon (Glasson);
(07:55/12:10) T Higgins (Roscommon), C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown), M O’Sullivan (The International);
(08:05/12:20) J Tuohy (Galway Bay), K Lynch (Skibbereen), A Hill (Athenry);
(08:15/12:30) D Brady (Co Sligo), N Crawford (Mourne), J Doherty (Carton House);
(08:25/12:40) D McAleenon (Edenmore), D Coyle (Portmarnock), R Galligan (Elm Park);
(08:35/12:50) P Conroy (Enniscorthy), E Rumley (Kinsale), K Murphy (Dun Laoghaire);
(08:45/13:00) K Stack (Ballybunion) R Walsh Jr (Kinsale), G Ward (Kinsale);
(08:55/13:10) R O’Doherty (Enniscrone), S O’Connor (Castlebar), D O’Driscoll (Ballybunion);
(09:05/13:20) L Power (Galway), K McCormack (Portarlington), G O’Mahony (Fota Island);
(09:15/13:30) E Farrell (Ardee), E O’Brien (Clontarf), R Milne (Faithlegg);
(09:25/13:40) M McPartlin (Smurfit Club), R O’Connor (Co Sligo), C Butler (Kinsale);
(09:35/13:50) F O’Sullivan (Tralee), P O’Hara (Kilkenny), B Shally (Dromoland);
(09:45/14:00) T Dowdall (Woodbrook), H Gillivan (Westport), K Stack (Dungarvan);
(09:55/14:10) H Duggan (Kilkenny), P Tobin (Douglas), I Lynch (Rosslare);
(10:05/14:20) D Leufer (Athenry ), P Sheehan (Ballybunion), S Hogan (Nenagh);
(10:15/14:30) P Naughton (Limerick, L O’Connor (Edmondstown), A Ryan (Thurles);
(10:25/14:40) M Healy (Kinsale), C Nolan (Galway), M McKinstry (Cairndhu);
(10:35/14:50) C Byrne (Woodbrook), T Plunkett (Crover House), P Connolly (Killeen Castle);
(10:45/15:00) C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire), J Walsh (Castle), W Russell (Clandeboye);
(10:55/15:10) L Nolan (Galway), A Lowry (Esker Hills), M Young (Golf Du Priéure);
(11:05/15:20) W Small (Tandragee), R Clarke (The Island), A Doran (Co Louth);
(11:15/15:30) E Shipp (Headfort), R Nelson (Belvoir Park), J Temple (Portmarnock);
(12:00/07:45) J Lyons (Galway), B Best (Rathmore), P O’Connor (Macroom);
(12:10/07:55) S Murphy (Portumna), E Murphy (Dundalk), R McCrudden (Royal Portrush);
(12:20/08:05) P Murphy (Rosslare), M McAlpin (Royal Portrush), B Murray (Waterford Castle);
(12:30/08:15) D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh), S Walsh (Portmarnock), H O’Hare (Fortwilliam);
(12:40/08:25) TJ Ford (Co Sligo), G Cullen (The Links Portmarnock), M McCormack (Moss Creek);
(12:50/08:35) M McClean (Malone), E Leonard (Killiney), T McLarnon (Massereene);
(13:00/08:45) R Latimer (Knock), P Buckley (Memorial), L Grehan (Mullingar);
(13:10/08:55) S Desmond (Monkstown), D Kitt (Athenry), R Black (Hilton Templepatrick);
(13:20/09:05) H Foley (Royal Dublin), C Denvir (Elm Park), D McCormack (Roganstown);
(13:30/09:15) A McCormack (Castletroy), S Carroll (Ballybunion), C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire);
(13:40/09:25) K Morrison (Holywood), A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire), J Hood (Galgorm Castle);
(13:50/09:35) D Flynn (Carton House), J McCarthy (Grange), J Sutherland (Galgorm Castle);
(14:00/09:45) G Dunne (Co Louth), R Williamson (Holywood), M Boucher (Carton House);
(14:10/09:55) P McKeever (Castle), C Hickey (Dooks), R Cannon (Balbriggan);
(14:20/10:05) J Fox (Portmarnock), M Reid (Galgorm Castle), J Whelan (Newlands);
(14:30/10:15) E Smith (The Links Portmarnock), R Moran (Castle), J McDonnell (Forrest Little);
(14:40/10:25) S Flanagan (Portmarnock), N Hearns (Mountrath), E Griffin (Waterford);
(14:50/10:35) R Brazill (Naas), P O’Keeffe (Douglas), D Morley (Oughterard);
(15:00/10:45) R Mullarney (Galway), M Deasy (Lee Valley), J Murphy (Kinsale);
(15:10/10:55) P Coughlan (Castleknock), P Murray (Clontarf), C Campbell (Warrenpoint);
(15:20/11:05) M McKenna (Dun Laoghaire), C Dunphy (Killeen Castle), J Blake (The Island);
(15:30/11:15) R Knightly (Royal Dublin), T Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown), M Nolan (Dun Laoghaire).