Neil O’Briain finished with a flourish to produce his best round of the week at the Sunshine Tour season opener – the Eye of Africa PGA Championship in South Africa.
The Dubliner, who’s set to remain in SA for what could be five events until mid-March, fired six birdies in a satisfying round of 68 to make some final round headway.
Last year’s Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year finished in a share of 22nd spot on minus-three and was understandably pleased to return a score to match his ball-striking in an encouraging Sunday performance.
“I played nicely enough today,” reflected O’Briain who has bemoaned an ice cold flat-stick this week. “I didn’t really get the putter going at all again but it helps when you’re hitting it stiff the odd time and hitting par-5s in two.
“But I’m happy enough. Some of it was very good which helps to build momentum going into the next few weeks.”
Having worked hard on his game over the holidays, perhaps the most satisfying aspect of his rousing finish was that work being reflected in his play, with O’Briain excited for what’s to come, particularly this week’s Cape Town Open.
“I’ve done a lot of work on speed to get a bit of distance and that seems to be paying off quite well,” continued O’Briain.“I’ve been spending a lot of time on wedge play too and I hit a couple stiff today which is nice; braindead stuff when you’re walking up and virtually tapping it in.
“That’s really pleasing as I know this week’s track is quite short and tight so I’ll be looking to try to take advantage of that if I can.
“I just need a few more putts to drop if I’m honest. I’m hitting a lot of good putts that are lipping out here and there which unfortunately cost me a decent position in the end this week.
“But if we can keep the ball rolling next week, get the putts to drop it could be a different story. Still, I’m really happy with the good start to the season. Considering I made the cut on the mark and managed to sneak a backdoor top-25 is very pleasing.”