‘The finest par five in the world’ lives up to its billing

COURSE designer Robert Trent Jones once described the 18th hole at Adare as “the finest par five in the world” and it certainly lived up to its billing during yesterday’s first round of the Irish Open at Adare.

Just ask 38 year-old Belfast golfer Damian Mooney who knocked two balls into the River Maigue on the way to running up a quadruple bogey nine. However, if he thought that was bad, there was even worse to come for, having started at the 10th, he still had to tackle another tortuously difficult par five, the 625-yard 9th. He lost another two balls at this hole on the way to a ten. And having also run up double bogeys at the 8th and 11th, Mooney eventually signed for a 20 over par 92. In fairness, he took his embarrassment on the chin. “When I tried to hit it straight, it went right, and when I tried to hit it right, it went straight.”

Mooney was far from the only player to suffer grievously at the 18th. Andrew Raitt of England ran up a nine, it cost another Ulster man, Peter Martin, an eight while there were sevens for Jyoti Randhawa, Mark Foster, Leslie Walker, Graeme McDowell and Cesar Monasterio. The certainty is that there is more, lots more, of the same to follow over the next three days.

Meanwhile, there were many complaints concerning the difficulty of the course, but those who moaned loudest should have taken note of the fine effort of a 30-year-old Swede, Peter Gustafsson, a man who has yet to win a tournament and whose appearances of late have been severely restricted by a neck injury. He shot six birdies to join fellow countryman Peter Hanson, England’s Simon Dyson and Argentine Andres Romero on four under par.

“I wasn’t expecting that”, he reacted. “I said at the start I would take four rounds of even par and be happy with that. It is a shame we don’t play these courses more. It is one of the best I have ever played, even compared with Muirfield and Royal Co Down.”

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