Nolan hopes South American Amateur win is a sign of things to come

Ronan MacNamara
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Liam Nolan (Image: Niall O'Shea)

It may only be the second week in January but it’s never too early to get a win under the belt and a big one at that. Liam Nolan announced his Walker Cup credentials with a stunning come from behind victory at the South American Amateur Championship in Ecuador.

The Galway man came from seven shots adrift to hold off overnight leader Jose C Islas and fellow Irishman Max Kennedy to win by the minimum on seven-under.

A birdie on the 17th hole helped him edge his nose in front and a final round 68 was enough to claim his first major title.

“I’m delighted with the win. To get it so early in the year is great and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come during the year,” explained Nolan who was part of a four person Golf Ireland team alongside Kennedy, Clodagh Coughlan and Irish Intervarsities winner Kate Dwyer.

“It was a really good week. I really enjoyed it, the guys we got on so well as the four people out there and that really helped on and off the golf course, we had good chemistry out there.”

The 22-year-old who is part of the 19-man provisional Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad for September’s edition vs USA in St Andrews had yet to shoot a round in the 60s after 54 holes but after some work on the practice green after round three he saw some crucial birdie putts disappear as he posted five red numbers on Sunday night.

Nolan who was runner-up in the West of Ireland Championship last year – as well as two further top-5 finishes in Irish events – was encouraged with how well he played down the closing stretch to break free from the pack.

“I hit the ball quite well all week and there were patches where I scrambled really nicely and then in the last round I got the putter rolling which was really nice.

“After the third round I went to the putting green and just got a nice feeling with the putter and just rolled with that then for the last round and I was very good down the stretch which was a great feeling this early in the year.”

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