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Irish Open @ Royal Portrush, Jamie Donaldson Wins

Dominant Donaldson takes crown

Jamie Donaldson (Getty Images

Jamie Donaldson won his first European Tour event at The Irish Open a t Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim on Sunday, watched by 112,280 spectators who flocked to Northern Ireland. This was Jamie’s 255th event on Tour and he easily won, by four shots in a last round that included eight birdies, shooting a last round of  -6 under par, 66, and a total of -18 under par. During his last round Jamie kept his head down, not glancing at  the leaderboard at all;

” I didn’t really look at any leaderboards on the way around. I didn’t really know what was going on. To have a hole in one the first time in a tournament, and to win it, as well, is very special. “

This was also the last time his caddie of five years, Jamie Baker would be on his bag, and he paid tribute to his long time friend;

‘ He’s a great mate and he did great for me for four or five years. He’s a good mate of mine and I think he’ll just be happy obviously to see me win, really.“

Anthony Wall, who was one of the players finishing in a tie for second was full of praise for his playing partner, Donaldson;

” I’ve never doubted him. He’s a class act and a super, super player, and he deserves everything he gets because he does work hard and he’s got loads of talent. “

Anthony completed the tournament in -14 under par, along with, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Fabrizio Zanotti. Unfortunately for Ireland Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington were unable to provide a fairytale finish for the viewing masses, Padraig being the best of the local contingent finishing tied for seventh on -12 under par, six shots off the lead.

The Irish Open at Royal Portrush, Gregory Bourdy leads after 2nd round

Bourdy reaps benefits of Clarke's advice

Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)

Gregory Bourdy leads the field after the conclusion of the second round at The Irish Open on the Royal Portrush golf links in County Antrim. Darren Clark offered Gregory some advice before the start of the tournament,  which obviously paid dividends as the Frenchman has moved into a one shot lead on the second day, and a tournament total of -12 under par. Greg spoke of the advice Darren had given him;

“I saw him on a tee and asked if it was possible to share a game. He is with the same manager, so I think that helped to get the right answer. Darren has been great with me. He gave me a lot of advice and maybe that gave me some confidence for the week. It was good for the lines on the tee shots. After just two or three times you can see better to know exactly the way you have to play.”

Darren seems full of gifts, just yesterday he gave a bottle of 21 year-old Bushmills Irish Whiskey to Jeev Milkha Singh. Jeev, who was the first round leader had a quieter day during the second round, completing a -1 under par round of 71, to be at -8 under par, and still in contention. Darren is thinking about his  Open Championship title defense at Royal Lytham and St Annes, which is just three weeks away;

“I’m just not tournament sharp and it’s important to have more competitive rounds.”

He has suffered from a groin strain and needed to rest it, taking a month off;

 “The break was massive, I needed to get away and the injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise. My golf’s not been that bad, but my scoring’s been terrible. I’ve been travelling all round the world trying to fulfil my role as Open Champion,  but now I’m refreshed. The last two days have probably been the best two ball-striking rounds I’ve had in a while. I’m definitely close. I need something around 65 or 64 to get into contention, but I’ve shot low scores here before.”

Darren has certainly achieved that task, he shot a record 61 on this course, at the tender age of 16.

Of the rest of Irish contingent, Padraig Harrington, the only home winner of The Irish Open in the last 30 years, has given himself the chance to do it again. Padraig  is ten under par after two 67s, and will surely be there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon. Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell are all still around for the weekend, for Open Champion Clarke it was a first cut made all year. McIlroy and McDowell are both on the leaderboard at five under par, with Darren Clarke one further back.

Padraig Harrington said he is playing an unfamiliar game, but is hopeful once it all clicks into place he will win a few more tournaments;

 I’m playing a game I’m not familiar with, I’m hitting far more fairways and greens than normal and I know I could play better if I trusted it a bit more. I’ve shortened my swing significantly and I didn’t really put myself in any trouble. It was as stress-free a 67 as you could get in these conditions. I know they are around the corner and they tend to come like buses. When you get one a few more arrive very quickly.”

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