Julien Brun is hungry to compete with the game’s elite again, and is eyeing a return to the winners’ circle at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9.
The Frenchman, who became the sixth amateur to win on the European Challenge Tour when he triumphed in his homeland in 2012, was highly regarded during his time at Texas Christian University, and particularly caught the eye when he finished second behind Thomas Pieters at the 2012 NCAA Men’s individual Championship.
Since graduating, the 25 year old has struggled to maintain the performance levels that saw him go toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best players as a student in the United States.
Now back in Europe, a rejuvenated Brun is confident he can recapture the form that saw him beat a Major Champion and a Ryder Cup star.
“I was able to play against the best guys and beat them quite often,” he said. “I was going toe-to-toe with them for four years.
“I was able to play against Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Rodgers and John Rahm – all those guys. I got some good experience playing against some good players and now it is my turn to bring it on.
“Although I struggled right after I am playing well again and finding good form – so hopefully I will be back with them again soon.”
After finishing his studies in Texas, Brun qualified for the PGA Tour Canada where he has been playing for the last two seasons.
Since making the decision to come back to Europe last year, Brun has secured his second victory at a professional tournament on the satellite Alps Tour at the 2017 Ein Bay Open.
“I practised well all winter, so to get a good result right out of the gate at the Alps Tour was a very good feeling – and very encouraging going forward,” he said.
“I am back in Europe for sure after playing in Canada for a couple of years where I was struggling. I can now be around the people I know, and in an environment where I know I have played well in the past.
“I played well in college and decided to stay in the United States but after not playing well I found myself alone so it was an easy decision to come back home where I have family, support and my old coach – it was the best decision for me now.”
Brun, who represented Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup in 2010 and in the Palmer Cup in 2012 and 2013, is no stranger to match play – and believes the format and course at La Cala Resort will suit him this week.
“Every time you putt well you give yourself a chance,” he said. “I am usually a good putter and I know the course well after coming here for Alps Tour Qualifying School – so hopefully I can use that to my advantage.
“It is a very tricky course. You just have to put the ball in play, and when you have done that you have short wedges and short irons in. If you just put the ball in play then you will be just fine – it is going to be a very exciting week for sure.”
Joining Brun at La Cala Resort are England’s Aaron Rai and Ryan Evans, both of whom have already triumphed on the 2017 Road to Oman and currently sit second and third in the Rankings.
Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen arrives in Andalucía in a rich vein of form after recording back-to-back career-best performances on the European and Challenge Tours.
This week sees the return of match play golf to the Challenge Tour for the first time in 18 years. The first two rounds will comprise of traditional stroke play, before the top 32 players make it through to the weekend where they will compete against one another in a series of nine-hole matches.