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The Irish Open. Casey Captures Title at Carton

Paul Casey captured The Irish Open title at Carton House Golf Course with a brilliant closing round in tough conditions of -5 under par 67 for total of -14 under par and a three shot win.

Paul Casey  (Getty Images)

Paul Casey / Getty Images

Paul returned to form in sensational style since his problems with form and fitness since winning his last European Tour title two and a half years ago. He really enjoyed the sweet redemption;

“It’s incredibly sweet, it’s been a while and when that putt went in half of it was relief and half of it was satisfaction. What a grandstand finish, winning an Irish open is an absolute dream. I was feeling wet when it rained. It was a shaky start, I didn’t hit the ball particularly close going out but when the putts did start to go in I got on a bit of a roll. I love playing in Ireland, I always have. The Irish Open has great history,  just looking at Seve’s name on the trophy. We’ve had some interesting weather but they’ve turned out as Irish fans always do and I love playing in front of Irish crowds, I’m looking forward to coming back.”

Overnight leader Dutchman Joost Luiten, struggled in the final round carding a +3 over par 74, to tie for second place with  England’s Robert Rock, both players finished on -11 under par. Joost was happy to finish in second place;

All in all, a good week, second place is always good, but if you go in the last round as the leader, you want to have more, but sometimes you can’t.”

Robert said he wanted to win, but it was a good performance;

“It’s as good as I’ve done in a while. When you’re that close, you want to win, but Paul played the better golf around the important part of the day where the rain came down. There were some shots I should have played better; things to work on.”

Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal finished fourth place, after a closing +4 over par 75, with former Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal a shot further back in a share of fifth position on-8 under par, with Shane Lowery, Gareth Shaw, Alvaro Quiros and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

 

Euro Tour. The Irish Open. Luiten Likes It.

Joost Luiten likes the way he is playing at The Irish Open on the European Tour, giving himself a one shot lead to take into the final round.

Joost Luiten   (Getty Images)

Joost Luiten / Getty Images

Joost fired a flawless bogey free round of -6 under par, 66, to take him into a clear lead going into the final round. Good approach play, all birdies were from ten feet or less, coupled with good putting put him into this precious position. He also likes this course;

” It was good to-day, a round in this wind with no bogeys is always good. It looks like I’m playing good, playing consistently. I don’t make a lot of silly mistakes, the game feels good. I like the course , obviously after three rounds if you’re leading you like it. The key is to stay out of the fairway bunkers. It’s always great to go into the last round of the tournament as the leader, but this is The Irish Open and perhaps bigger than some other events. I don’t really care who is behind me, as long as they stay behind me. You still have to go out and make some birdies, be patient and take it one shot at a time. It’s always good to have a win under your belt, you can go a little bit more for the win. You have nothing to lose so that’s how I am going to go out tomorrow. I’ve been working on my swing for a long time and am finally fully fit after a shoulder problem which meant I couldn’t practice as much on the range. It has been good for a couple of months and feels really good now.”

Pablo Larrazábal is alone in second place at -14 under par, he also had a third round of -6 under par 66, and at just one shot back is certain to mount a charge for the title. He is hoping he will strike the ball as well tomorrow as he has done the other three rounds, and continue making the putts.

” I’ve been playing good. The last month I didn’t play as good as the three months before, so I feel that I’m hitting the ball good, and I have to fight for the tournament. I hope tomorrow I can hit the ball as good as these days and hole as many putts.”

Robert Rock occupies third place, just three shots off the lead after his disappointing -1 under par round, leaving him on -10 under par for the tournament. He is still very much in this competition, and maybe Paul Casey can make an impression tomorrow. Paul is showing some form here and at -9 under par in total can not be ruled out of contention. Sharing that position with Paul is Scot Henry.

Another shot further back at -8 under par is former Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, sadly halfway joint-leader Peter Uihlein slipped back to -7  under after a poor round of +2 over par 74.

Euro Tour. The Irish Open, Rock and Uihlein Lead. McIlroy Misses Cut

Robert Rock and Peter Uihlein lead the European Tour, The Irish Open at Carton House Golf Course in Kildare, Ireland at the conclusion of the second round.

Peter Uihlein  (Getty Images)

Peter Uihlein / Getty Images

Peter was happy to play in the strong breeze that came up in Kildare for the second round. He won the Madeira Islands Open last month in another blustery event, and said he had played in stronger winds when at college in Oklahoma;

” In college in Oklahoma it was quite windy all the time, so I quite enjoy the wind and knew it was tough out there. It was gusting at times, and it was a good, solid day. The Irish fans live up to the reputation of being very knowledgeable and supportive, so it’s been good. I spent three and a half years in Oklahoma where we would play in a tornado. It was a good experience there, and I feel like in the wind, you don’t have to be perfect, which is what I struggle with. I would try and be too perfect sometimes and in the wind, you just play golf, you hit shots and you just try and manoeuvre it a little bit. I feel like when it gets windy, you have almost a little more room, so I enjoy it. I’ve had a very good support group with Chubby ( his manager) and my coach Butch Harmon and my dad ( Chairman of top equipment company Acushnet). Those guys have been around the game a long, long time. If they say this is the right route, then I’m going to listen to them. And I look at a guy like Adam Scott, somebody I’ve always looked up to, and he came over to Europe and started off his career. Rory did the same thing, start in Europe before heading to the States. There have been a lot of guys who have done it and had great success. It’s just different me being an American and doing it.”

Robert has missed six out of nine cuts and has been not playing to the form that saw him beat Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship last year. He has recently received some putting lessons and thinks that tactic is paying off;

” I’ve been putting a little bit better lately so to start the day with even a five foot putt for a birdie was nice, and I drove it well for the rest of the round really. I was frustrated in Munich, played really quite well for three days but putted awfully and I played on Saturday with Richard McEvoy and he had a little suggestion but also gave me Jonathan Yarwood’s number, and he kindly sent me an e mail, a V1 email golf lesson and told me really a few things to change in the setup. I sent him a video back about quarter six Sunday morning and shot seven under. Unfortunately it didn’t work at The Open qualifying quite so well on Monday, but it’s been better. I’m feeling quite awkward doing it, so on some putts I’m hitting average putts because I’m confusing myself a little bit but on the whole it’s been good. I didn’t have my arms and putter shaft set at the right angle or in line and I was holding a little too far up the putter to achieve that. So I tried to align all that, and if you see me over the weekend during the round, that’s what I’m going to do, and if it’s not in line, I might miss. I think I had 26 putts today which is as good as I’ve done in a long while. I’ve had 26 putts over the past few weeks but generally all tap ins so didn’t really count. I’ve been failing to set the ball on line for a long time, and that did it.  played well in Dubai at the start of the year but before that it seems to go back a good while. A few off course things that distracted from practice and then that kind of spirals into your game later down the line and you realise, yeah, should have put the time in that you should have done and have to put more time in to correct that and that takes a while for it to work.”

Missing the cut were local boys, Rory McIlroy, who will surely begin to tumble down the World Golf Rankings soon, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.

The Irish Open. Rory Feels Lost. Oscar Floren 1st Round Leader

Oscar Floren of Sweden found some unexpected form to lead The Irish Open by one one shot after the first round at Carton House Golf Club, at Kildare Ireland.

Oscar Floren   (Getty Images)

Oscar Floren / Getty Images

Oscar fired in his best round of the season, -6 under par, 66,  to top the leaderboard at The Irish Open on day one of the tournament. Previously this season Oscar has not finished above 25th place in a European Tour event, but carded a bogey free round that included four birdies and an Eagle. The eagle came at the par four 13th, where Oscar holed out in two shots.

Oscar was pleased with his performance;

“I played great today, It was nice to get off good start today. I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, and eventually a few putts are going to drop. Mentally I’ve changed a bit and put in the work, doing the smart things every day. After March/April I changed things and it’s been paying off. I’ve been in form the last few weeks, I finished well in Germany but I played well in St Omer and Austria the first two rounds as well.”

Hot on Oscar’s heels are a posse of five players on -5 under par, led by Irish favorite Shane Lowery. Shane is joined in second place by, Michael Hoey, Joost Luiten, Peter Uihlein and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet.

Shane Lowery owns a house on the course, but has banned his family, he shares it with Graeme Storm and Oliver Fisher during the tournament;

“Family are banned from the house until Sunday afternoon. I always hang out with Graeme Storm and Oliver Fisher and when the tournament was announced I said they could stay with me. I’m trying to keep my routine as normal as possible this week. It would seem like there should be more pressure on me this week, but I’m looking at it as an advantage. I play this course week-in, week-out and know it like the back of my hand. I went to Baltray just happy to be there and would have been happy going home with four rounds under my belt, but obviously I came away with a lot more than that. This week and 2009 is like chalk and cheese. You can say I’m coming here trying to win the tournament but I’m trying not to talk too much about it.”

Rory McIlroy

Lost Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory McIlroy shot a +2 over par, 74 in the first round of The Irish Open, and admitted that he felt lost out on the course;

” At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I’m just feeling a bit lost at the moment. It feels good on the range and I can hit all the shots but when I get out on the course it really does not seem to be there. Off the tee, I am missing one right and then missing one left and it’s just not going where I want it. It puts you in two minds every time you are playing a tee shot. The game is just not coming easy to me at the moment and while I was struggling at this point last year, I was able to turn the corner in the middle of the summer and have a great end to my season. I don’t know whether it’s a matter of trying to play my way out of it or just keep grinding away on the range or whatever.”

Will the R&A Reward Royal Portrush with The Open ?

There is some debate about should  the R&A should award Royal Portrush Gold Club with staging The Open. Although Portrush has a small population of  around 7,000 it has a Major champion with Graeme McDowell winning the US Open of 2010, and Ireland itself with other golfing greats, like three time Major winner Padraig Harrington, and of course the current holder of The Open, Darren Clark. Also back in 1947 Fred Daly won The Open, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. Fred Daly was born in Portrush, County Antrim and during his acceptance speech said he was very honored to receive the Claret Jug and take it back to Northern Ireland. He then went on to say that the trophy had never been to Ireland and that he was hoping that the change of air would help it. There was much applause and laughter at his humorous comments.

Padraig Harrington tees off at Royal Portrush in what has been a massively successful tournament

Three time Major winner Padraig Harrington, tees off in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.                                                                                     photo/Belfast Telegraph

 The Irish crowds last week were reported to be the best behaved set of spectators for any tournament this year, real praise indeed. The great success of the last week’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush indicates it is surely a question of when rather than if golf’s most celebrated and oldest Major, The Open, is played in this small part of the world. The R&A had observers at Royal Portrush during the tournament and just like everyone who set foot on the Dunluce Links they will have gone home mightily impressed. No one can deny the feel good factor has oozed out of the fairways, and much pleasure and pride can be taken from how everyone managed to enjoy the Irish Open event.

Some changes would be needed, a consortium headed by reigning Open Champion Darren Clark have put in some plans for the future of the multi-million pound Bushmills course. At the moment The National Trust have put a block on the project, but Darren is certain they will “soon come to their senses”.

Lets all hope so, and wish Darren and Bushmills get their way, which would facilitate Royal Portrush being awarded The Open, the Irish People deserve it.

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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