Irish Open. Wire to Wire Win for Ilonen

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A wire to wire win for Mikko Ilonen at the Irish Open on Fota Island Resort course.

Mikko Ilonen is presented with the trophy by Enda Kenny TD, An Taoiseach, and George O'Grady  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen (center) / Getty Images.

Mikko completed a wire-to-wire victory by winning the Irish Open at Fota Island Resort, a -1 under par 70 last round was enough to keep his one shot advantage, and lift the trophy with his -13 under par total. Mikko’s victory was inspired by the wire to wire win of Martin Kaymer at the U.S. Open;

“It was very much a Martin Kaymer inspired win, I sent a message to him last week that I really enjoyed watching golf. I very rarely enjoy watching golf; I would rather play golf, but Martin’s win inspired me. It was nice to keep that lead all the way.”

“I made sure that I paced myself well and I’m not too quick with things and keep my head up no matter what happens, and I kept on doing the same thing all the time, tried to hit the fairway. I hit a lot of greens today and kept okay pace with my putting.”

“I looked back on the 18th green and I couldn’t believe how many people there were.  It’s nice to see , it was a very humble moment. I had a number in my head all week that I tried to get to and I missed it by a mile.” 

He is definitely excited by the prospect of returning to Royal Liverpool for The Open next month;

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I qualified off the Order of Merit last year. I am looking forward to it and hope I can keep this run going. I would like to go in between those big crowds on Sunday, so that means I need to be a little bit better than 16th.”

 Edoardo Molinari was in second place, at -12 under par, a -4 under par 67 final round taking him up the leaderboard.

Three players tied for third place, Kristoffer Broberg, course record holder, Danny Willett and Matthew Baldwin finished at -11 under par. Danny could only return a final round of even par 71, after his record 64 yesterday, he had to be disappointed.

Edoardo, Danny and Matthew have also qualified for  The Open at Hoylake after securing the three available places via the new Open Qualifying Series. Mathew edged out Kristoffer, due to his better world ranking.

Graeme McDowell struggled in the final round returning a score of even par, to dash his hopes of a home victory. He blamed a poor putting performance;

“Perhaps one of the worst putting weekends of my career when in contention. I let a lot slip away yesterday and continued in the same vein today.”

“So I’m kind of focusing on the big picture this week, looking at the summer and looking at the two Major Championships coming up and Ryder Cups and all kinds of fun things to look forward to. My game is in great shape and there are a lot of positives this week.”

Irish Open. Ilonen Going for Wire to Wire Win

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Mikko Ilonen is going for a wire to wire win at the Irish Open

Mikko Ilonen   (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko still leads by one shot after day three at the Irish Open on Fota Island, shooting a third round -2 under par 69, for a tournament total of -12 under par. He reported that he is happy that his final round pairing will be with Danny Willett, rather than having to play alongside home town favorite G-Mac;

“It will help, Graeme will be in front of us but it will be the same as today. I have been leading all the way and handling the pressure pretty well so far.”

“I was off here and there today, especially with a couple of drives in the beginning on the par fives. All in all I kept it together nicely, I felt good on the course and pretty pleased with how I am placed.”

Danny Willett is in second place at -11 under par, following his record breaking third round -8 under par 63.  A hole in one at the par three 7th helped his cause;

“We had a perfect number, 168 yards with an eight iron but you never expect it to slam dunk, that was a bit of a bonus. We’ve been playing great for a long time but could not seem to get anything going on the greens, but holing a wedge yesterday (for an eagle on the second) and an eight iron today certainly helps.”

“Coming from the US Open last week it was a slightly different mentality, it was quite tricky to stop playing 20 feet away from the flags and on the first day we were too cautious.”

 Graeme stayed very much in contention after talking to himself about how to go about winning, he is sitting nicely in third place at -10 under par;

“Walking down the tenth I had to have a chat with myself and stay patient, I only needed three birdies not six. It helps having been in this scenario before and it was nice to birdie two of the last three there and get myself back in this golf tournament.”

“I really enjoyed the crowd interaction today, it’s been a fun week and it would be nice to put the icing on the cake tomorrow with a big round. I’ll try and give them what they want tomorrow, an Irish winner, but there’s a lot of names on that leaderboard that will have some issues with that.”

“It would be special on many levels. It would be a kickstarter for my season. It would be a big boost in the world rankings and Ryder Cup rankings. But most importantly, to win here in front of my home fans, with everything that’s gone on in Irish golf lately, with the Open Championship (at Portrush) announcement, Rory (McIlroy) and his Olympic announcement this week and just generally what’s been going on in Irish golf, I think it would be fun to do the business tomorrow.”

“Having played in Ryder Cups and Major Championships I guess thankfully I’m experienced with this type of atmosphere and this type of crowd. But there’s something a little bit special about the dynamic of the Irish fans and I’d dearly love to give them what they want tomorrow.”

Of course there is still the chasing pack of players who are within striking distance, especially the bunch on -9 under par, tomorrow will be an interesting day.

Irish Open. Ilonen Is Still Leading. Rory Misses Cut.

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Mikko Ilonen is still leading at the Irish Open at Fota Island, while Rory McIlroy misses the cut.

Mikko Ilonen  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko is still the man to catch after he added a -3 under par 68 to his course-record 64 during the second round of the Irish Open. He now has a two shot lead at the top of the leaderboard at -10 under par.

“I got to my goal, I wanted to get to double digits. I got there on 16 but then I lost it on 17, so it was good to birdie the last hole. I wanted to get to at least ten under, and I just did that.” 

“I said yesterday, one shot at a time, one hole at a time. It’s a long week, but two rounds of golf, it’s a long way from here. Got to keep the head down and go one shot at a time.” 

Graeme McDowell, Robert Rock and Romain Wattel are tied in third spot at -8 under par, but G-Mac has never had a top-ten finish in this event, he joked;

There’s always a first time for everything. I’ve been unhappy with my game now for a few months, really getting frustrated with myself in general and trying to be a little too perfect. I tried to loosen myself up a little bit and try to enjoy my golf a little bit. I’m surprised and excited to be in contention.”

“Normally there’s some pressure and expectation in the Irish Open. I think maybe coming off the US Open last week, with as much pressure and frustration and expectation as you feel there, perhaps that’s why I’m dealing with it a little bit better because it nearly feels like the proverbial walk in the park by comparison.”

“This is a fun game to play. We are very lucky to play it for a living but last week bordered on the unenjoyable because the golf course was so frustratingly difficult. I’ve played in front of many big crowds before, but maybe none as passionate here as the Irish crowd. There’s nothing quite like it when a crowd is pulling for you and it’s a fun experience. It’s something I’ve never experienced before, except perhaps at a Ryder Cup.”

Robert lost a play-off to Shane Lowry in 2009 but claimed the first prize of €500,000 as Shane was still an amateur at the time, and finished fifth in 2006 and second to Paul Casey last year. He likes this tournament;

“It’s a tournament I like playing but I think it’s more the time of year. I enjoy the tournaments at the start of the year, but when we travel further afield I don’t play well and it batters your confidence. It takes time to rebuild that and it seems to be this time of year it comes back.”

Rory suffered his first missed cut on the European Tour in 2014;

“It’s very frustrating, to make six birdies and an eagle and shoot just two under means there were a lot of mistakes and wasteful shots. To miss the cut for the second year in a row is not a nice position to be in. I don’t know what else to say, it’s very disappointing.”

“I’m proud of myself how I fought out there and didn’t give up and tried for the last shot, I gave myself a chance to try to make the cut with the big birdie putt on 17, but just wasn’t meant to be.

“I just need to tighten it all up and become a lot more consistent, make the bad shots a little bit better and not be as wasteful around the greens. If I can do that, I know my game is right there. I’ve got a couple weeks off now to work on my game a little bit, play some links golf and get ready for the Scottish Open and the Open.”

Irish Open. Ilonen Leads in Ireland.

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Mikko Ilonen leads in Ireland at the Irish open at the Fota Island Resort.

Mikko Ilonen  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko carded a course record -7 under par 64 at Fota Island Resort to establish a two shot lead after the first round of the Irish Open. He recorded eight birdies and one bogey, and said patience was the key;

“It was a slow start really. The first sort of four or five holes I felt like I can’t get anything going, but I stayed patient and then the birdies kept coming. In the end I managed to hit a couple of good putts which was nice.”

There are three players tied in third position at -5 under par following their opening rounds of 66. Marcel Siem, Robert Karlsson and Magnus A Carlsson sharing.

Robert really enjoyed his day;

It was nice, I’m very, very happy. I worked quite hard when I’ve been at home since the Nordea Masters, so it’s been nice to keep it going. I’ve done a bit of work with my coach and things are coming together quite nicely. The long game was very, very good today.”

Graeme McDowell is back in a tie for 9th place in the log jam at -3 under par, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington returned a -2 under par score of 69, which was matched by the defending champion Paul Casey.

Rory McIlroy slumped to an opening round of +3 over par 74, and will have to pay really well tomorrow if he is to make the cut;

“I still drove the ball great and got in the positions that you need to, but short-sided myself a couple of times, hit a couple of loose shots with my wedges and could not get a putt to drop.”

“I was pretty sloppy with the scoring clubs so I might head to the range this afternoon to work on those. I need to do better tomorrow to be here for the weekend.”

 

Irish Open. Casey, McIlroy & G-Mac are in the Field.

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Fota Island is a 7,043-yard par 71 in Cork

The venue, Fota Island / Getty Images

Fota Island is a 7,043-yard par 71. It unusually has back-to-back par fives on the front nine at holes 4 and 5 and then two more par fives on the back, at holes 10 and 18. The eighteenth hole is just a 532 yards par five, which sets up the possibility of an Eagle finish to the competition on Sunday.

Defending Champion Paul Casey;

 Paul Casey   (Getty Images)

Paul Casey / Getty Images

“I always defend a title, I won in Korea and I went back to Korea. If I won in Timbuktu, I’d go back to Timbuktu. I never get tired of defending. It’s exciting to me and this is an important championship.  The Irish Open is one of the biggest titles I’ve won. It meant a lot winning it last year. “

“Casey is a Cork name, one of my cousins who lives in the States has done a whole bunch of research on all our ancestors so I will try this week to find out more. It was my great-grandfather who was over here, and I think my grandfather on my dad’s side moved to South Africa. So it’s pretty close, I’ll try and find out more.”  

Paul’s heroics last year at Carton House Golf Club endeared him to many Irish fans. If he triumphed again this week it would reinforce that bond and put Paul well and truly back in the spotlight.
Rory McIlroy, has not played here before, but is looking forward to challenge after the horrors of Pinehurst #2;

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

“I need to play some stellar stuff, I need to win at least one big one or a couple of others by the cut-off. I think it’s plain and simple. And even that doesn’t guarantee anything, but at least that might get me into consideration.”

“I’ve heard great things about the course, so I’m really looking forward to getting down there and seeing it for myself. I vaguely remember watching the Irish Open on TV when it was there in 2002. It’s a parkland golf course, which will be nice after last week at Pinehurst, where I made only nine birdies in four rounds.”

“Absolutely buzzing for The Irish Open at Fota Island Resort this week. Forecast is great so should be a great week.”

Graeme McDowell knows this course well;

Fota Island was my Irish Open debut and it’s got good memories, good thoughts, a great venue. The Irish Open is always special to us as Irish players.”

 

 

 

 

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Justin Jogs Along

 

Justin Rose  (Getty Images)

Justin Rose / Getty Images

Justin Rose jogged through the third round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship with a -4 under par round of 68. He now has a two shot lead over the field. Jamie Donaldson is in second place at -10 under par after his third round score of -3 69, he shares second spot with Thorbjorn Olesen.

Thongchai Jaidee is alone in fourth place at -9 under par following his marvelous round of -6 under par, 66. New Zealand’s Michael Campbell is still showing some interest in this tournament, he now at -7 under par, five shots off the pace going into the last round.

Justin was pretty candid with his comments;

“I came here with no expectations, I came here to see where my game is at. Anybody who wins this week, they have beaten the Number One and Number Two in the world. You can say you’ve beaten the best. I believe that any tournament I tee up in I can win.”

Jaime Donaldson had a victory last year in the Irish Open, so far that is his only triumph, but he is feeling confident here;

“I feel pretty good, I played some great recovery shots out there. It was another tough day out there, even though there wasn’t much wind. I couldn’t have really scored much better than that.”

Thorbjorn Olesen won the Sicilian Open last year, and is also full of confidence;

“I won last year and that gave me a lot of confidence, and I had a few second places. So I’m learning in every tournament, and it’s been a really good process the last three years. Hopefully I can make a few birdies tomorrow and make it exciting.”

David Howell, is at -8 under par, his last victory was  in 2006 at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but has kind of dropped off the radar since then. David commented about his record in this tournament;

 “I’ve never really played well here, a couple of top twenties I think maybe. But if I can have a great day tomorrow obviously I can post a very good total. I’ve played really consistently for the best part of a year and I’m playing some of the best golf I ever have really. I’m just coming from a low position. It’s hard to fight your way back up there, but I’m doing it bit by bit and a big finish or a win would go a long way to taking me right back to where I want to be.”

I honestly don’t think David, or anyone can catch Justin, with the mood that he is in. He was relegated to fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings by Louis Oosthuizen’s victory in South Africa last week, Justin would take the position back by lifting a title worth €336,725.

 

 

European Tour, Portugal Masters, Shane Lowery Wins

Lowry evades Fisher to net Portugal Masters

Shane Lowry /EuropeanTour

Shane Lowry beat England’s Ross Fisher by one shot at the Portugal Masters after a thrilling final day in Vilamoura and became another golfer to win his maiden tour event this year, as a professional. His previous victory on Tour earned him nothing because of his amateur status. Shane had a last round of -5 under par, 66 to finish with a winning tournament total of  -14 under par,  and a cheque for €375,000 in addition to the trophy.

Shane said he was over the moon with his win;

“I cannot believe this, I can’t explain how I feel really. It’s a dream come true, I’m over the moon. Everyone was referring to me as the fella who won the Irish Open as an amateur, but now I’ve won such a prestigious event I don’t know what to say. It was like playing in Ireland, it was crazy, it was great.

Ross Fisher, of England, had a short putt  on the 18th to force a play-of, but the sad effort lipped out, leaving Shane victorious, and Ross one shot back on -13 under par, with a mediocre  last round of -1 under par 70.

Alone in third place, “Welcome Back Michael Campbell”,  Michael finished the tournament at -12 under par. The Kiwi was the  2005 US Open Champion, and then suddenly encountered a serious loss of form since he beat Tiger Woods at Pinehurst. Michael even fell outside the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 1,300 at one point, and only two seasons ago had made just one cut in his 19 starts. This was Michael’s best finish in four years, amazingly the last time he had four rounds in the 60′s was nine years ago. Nice to see you in contention again Michael.

Michael Campbell

Kiwi Michael Campbell/European tour