Stuart Grehan finished as best of the Irish at the Bendac Championship at Cumberwell Park as he signed for a. 54-hole total of level-par on the EuroPro Tour.
The Tullamore golfer shot a three-over 74 in what was a disappointing finish for him but it has been a busy week that included Open Championship regional qualifying.
Dundalk’s Daniel Mulligan was a shot further back after a three-over 74 of his own as both players languished towards the bottom of the leaderboard.
The drama was at the top as England’s Ryan Brooks notched his maiden EuroPro Tour win after he survived a four-way playoff after the quartet of Brooks, Jeff Wright, Michael Stewart and Maxwell Martin couldn’t be separated on nine-under.
This was the first playoff of the 2022 PGA EuroPro Tour season – and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The 18th acted as the opening hole for the playoff, which resulted in two players surrendering themselves from contention.
Firstly, Jeff Wright – who had been in the clubhouse for more than three hours – struck his drive out of bounds, effectively ruling himself out of the competition.
That was an unbelievably cruel way to finish his week, having played so inspiringly during regulation play.
Martin had left himself a fairly long putt and the danger of three attempts would certainly result in elimination – having been only four holes away from champion-status an hour ago.
His first putt was good and he – alongside everyone in attendance – would have expected him to roll the second in, which he couldn’t do.
Despite coming so close to victory and falling short, Martin should be exceptionally proud of his performance today and we are certain that there is plenty more to come – which is true for Wright too.
Then there were two.
Brooks actually had an excellent chance of glory during the first playoff hole, but he missed his short-ish putt, which was met with an audible groan.
During the second playoff hole – which was also the 18th – Brooks didn’t fare so well off the tee and he was left in the bunker.
He managed to pitch his approach to the front of the green but increased spin whizzed it back off the putting surface.
Stewart, having seen his opportunity rise exponentially, decided to go for the back of the green and he was safely on with an outside look of birdie – the momentum had swung.
Stewart safely two-putted, having missed his birdie attempt by a matter of inches.
Brooks, who hit a fairly decent chip into the green but produced too much cheque, had an even longer putt than the one he recently missed – but it was a similar line.
This one broke heavily right-to-left and from the moment it left his blade, it always looked like sinking – which it did.
A trip to the 10th was required; a new environment was needed to separate these two warriors.
The 10th hole at Cumberwell Park epitomises what risk and reward golf holes are all about.
Stewart decided to layup and give himself a wedge into the green; his opponent decided he wanted the spice.
Brooks found the green during regulation play and the same scenario took place during the playoff, leaving 20-foot for an eagle.
Stewart, under enormous pressure, found the green with his approach but left a long putt, which narrowly missed.
A two-putt was all that was required for Brooks, and the Midlands-based golfer gleefully two-putted for birdie and the championship.
He’s delighted about his maiden PGA EuroPro Tour title, but less so about his start-stop performance.
“I actually didn’t play that well. I didn’t have full control of the ball, but I managed my way around – that front nine is tricky, isn’t it?”
As is common in the sport of golf, the outcome is decided on the greens, and Brooks simply delivered when it mattered most.
“I holed a good putt on the 2nd and those four, five and six footers were dropping too.”
He is well aware of the difference that this win has made, with it boosting his chances of progression to the Challenge Tour.
“This victory has given me a big boost for finishing in the top 5 and I now have 10 free attempts to get one more win!”