Irish Open. Søren Kjeldsen is Champion.

White Dragon Golf

 

Søren Kjeldsen is the Irish Open Champion, which was hosted by the  Rory Foundation at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

Irish Open

Champion Søren & Rory / Getty Images

Søren won the Irish Open with a birdie on the first a play-off hole, against Bernd Wiesberger and Eddie Pepperell. In the tough cold and windy conditions only four players shot under par rounds today , and of the three leaders only Eddie was under par.
Søren carded a +5 over par round which left him with a -2 under par total, to equal the scores of Eddie and Bernd.

In the treacherous conditions Søren dropped four strokes on the opening nine, and his nervous winning putt in the play-off did a 360 round the cup before falling;

“The last breath I took was on about the 14th.”

“I have never been as nervous as this in the other tournaments I have won.”

“I had decided not to look at leaderboards but once I started dropping shots I started looking because it gave me a little pleasure that I wasn’t the only one struggling because it was such a brutal day.”

“I was leaking shots left, right and center but made a great up and down on 15 and the three-wood second shot in the play-off was pretty special.”

Eddie produced a bogey free -2 under par 69 round today, to get himself into the play-off on that score. Second place also gets him into the 144th, The Open Championship, at St Andrews;

“It’s great.  It didn’t cross my mind until I walked off the 18th and my caddie told me.”

“That’s a real bonus, and I know my dad and a few friends had already planned to go up there regardless. So I’ll be looking forward to it already.”

“I had a good weekend, good day today and put myself into a position where I had a chance to win.”

“On the whole I’m very pleased I think.”

Bernd thought he had also reached in the par five 18th in two, in the play-off;

“I thought I hit a really good three iron, it was right online.”

“I don’t know how it came up that short.  It was like 15-20 yards short from what I expected from that lie.”

“Just two bad chips on 18 that kind of cost me in the end to go to another extra hole.”

“But all in all, especially after last week, the way I played there, I have to be very proud and I’m quite happy with second place, and especially going into my favourite event in a couple weeks, I hope I can go one better.”

Joining the top three in The Open will be Tyrell Hatton, who edged out Rafa Cabrera-Bello for a place after they finished in a tie for fourth place on -1 under par.

 

 

Irish Open. Søren Kjeldsen In Front By Two.

White Dragon Golf

Søren Kjeldsen leads the Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

Irish Open

Soren Kjeldsen / Getty Images

Soren shot a third round -4 under par 67 to lead the Irish Open with a -7 under par total giving him a two shot lead going into the final round on Sunday.

Soren was playing bogey free golf, until the last two holes, he bogied both, otherwise he would have been free and clear of the field;

“If you had given me 67 stood on the first tee I would have been very happy.”

“I played terrific all day and didn’t think I did too much wrong on the last two holes, so I will focus on the first 16.” 

“Competition is pretty hard out here. It’s not easy to win and it’s not like I have played poorly for six years, but it’s nice to have a chance and it would mean everything to win this event.”

“But it’s too early to think about that. There are a lot of great players behind me and I need to play well on Sunday to have a chance.”

“It’s still that open.”

Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Maximilian Kieffer share second place at -5 under par for the tournament.

Max has a friend Stephen Sweeney, who was an assistant professional at Royal County Down Golf Club for four years, and he gave him some advice about how to play here;

“He showed us around in the practice round and this is definitely a course where local knowledge helps a lot.”

“I played very well today and holed a lot of putts, but I also had some luck when I hit a bad shot, which you are going to do in these conditions.”

Irish Open

Maximilian Kieffer / Getty Images

Rafa drove the green, at the 337 yard par four 16th, and then sunk the Eagle 2 putt, which gave him his -2 under par round;

“I think it’s going to put me in a great position for tomorrow.”

“It’s been really tough out there, lots of wind, pretty cold and playing in control of my game most of the time.”

 “I missed a short three putt but overall really pleased.”

Bernd Wiesberger, Richie Ramsay and Tyrrell Hatton are tied in fourth position, at -4 under par in the competition.

Bernd also struggled with the last few holes into the wind, picking up two bogey’s, and said it will play just as hard tomorrow;

“It will play tough tomorrow.”

“It was not ideal to pick up two bogeys there but it was a tough stretch coming in, and I’m just happy with a round under par today.”

In these tough conditions it is still anybody’s title, Niclas Fasth is at -2 under and  former World Number One Luke Donald is in a group at  -1 under.

Low round of the day went to Lucas Bjerregaard he equalled the old course record of -5 under 66 today to join the group with Luke.

 

 

 

Irish Open. Six Tied at the Top, Rory Misses Cut.

White Dragon Golf

There are six players tied at the top of the Irish Open leaderboard, but world number one Rory McIlroy misses the cut at Royal County Down Golf Club.

Bernd Wiesberger, Richie Ramsay, Soren Kjeldsen, Chris Wood, Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera-Bello all share the Irish Open lead at -3 under par.

If you are wondering how tough the conditions were out there, take a look at Bernd;

Irish Open

Feeling the cold, Bernd Wiesberger / Getty Images

These six leaders are closely followed by two heavy-weights, in the form of three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington and former world number one Luke Donald, both on -2 under par for the competition.

For third year in a row we have to say good-bye to Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut again here, worryingly it follows last weeks cut at the BMW. Rory said he had tried hie best, but the conditions made it very hard.

Irish Open

Rory missing cut / Getty Images

Rory shot an even par round today, but it was not enough;

” I felt like I played OK.”

” I didn’t really; it’s hard like this in the wind conditions. It’s hard even if you give yourself birdie chances, it’s hard to take advantage of them.”

“I was trying out there as hard as I could, I just couldn’t quite get a good run of holes going.”

“I didn’t get any momentum going. I was a couple under through fourteen, but needed a good finish, but  unfortunately wasn’t able to do that.”

“So really, just left myself with too much to do from yesterday. I felt like I played a solid round of golf today, but just wasn’t enough.”

The support out here is phenomenal, it’s going to be the third year in a row that they don’t get to see me play at the week-end.”

“So it’s obviously disappointing, to say the least, more disappointing for them.”

“I”m honestly looking forward to a few weeks off, to get ready for the U.S. Open, but right now it would have been nice to play the week-end at least.” 

 

 

Irish Open. OMG Rory Shoots 80.

White Dragon Golf  Open Championship logo

World number one Rory McIlroy shoots +9 over par 80 in the first round of the Irish Open, But another home town boy Padraig Harrington has delighted the gallery with his first round performance. Just seven days ago the three-time Major champion was forced to retire, at Wentworth Club, for the first time in his career due to a shoulder injury . Today, he fired a -4 under par course record 67 to tie the lead at his home Open with German Maximilian Kieffer.

Irish Open

Padraig Harrington / Getty Images

Padraig and Maximilian shared the top spot on the first day of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation, both carding course record rounds of -4 under par 67 at Royal County Down Golf Club.

Padraig started slowly but finished with a flourish, making five birdies on the back nine compared to one bogey;

“After nine or ten holes I thought to myself, Come on, we’ve got to hit a good shot, no need to be afraid.”

“I know from experience now that I’m in a position where there’s many ways of competing in this tournament.”

“I’ve two options; play great from now on and try and get away from the field or play average and fight it out on Sunday afternoon.”

Soren Hanson is in third place at -3 under par after his opening round 68.

Rory said nothing went right as he  struggled to his worst score of the season, and is now in danger of missing the cut at his own sponsored event;

Irish Open

Rory McIlroy / A/P

“It was not quite as difficult as I made it look.”

“I was hitting it well on the range, keeping it down and hitting half shots, but the wind was not up that much on the course and I was caught between trying to play two ways. “

“My poor iron play led to missed greens, which led to giving myself a lot of 8- to 12-footers for pars, and that led to missing all of them, worse as I got closer to the green.”

“It’s disappointing because I want to go out there and play well, not just for myself but for a lot of other people.”

“I’ll just have to pick myself up and go out there tomorrow and shoot a good one. I want to give the fans something to cheer about and not just get sympathy claps as I got coming off the ninth green.”

“My goal will be to make some birdies, make my first birdie of the tournament at some point.”

I’ve missed the cut the last two years so I don’t want to make it three in a row. I want to at least go out there tomorrow and fight for it, try to claw my way back towards the cut line and if I can sneak in there, that’ll be great.”

Playing alongside Rory was Rickie Fowler, who carded an opening even par round 71 in his first outing since winning the Players Championship at Sawgrass. Luke Donald went one better with a 70.

 

Irish Open. Wire to Wire Win for Ilonen

dragon logo dark

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

dragon logo dark

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.

dragon logo dark

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.”