The Irish Open
Could there have been a better showcase for the European Tour to pitch to potential tournament title sponsors than the pictures of a sunny, spectator-packed Fota Island Resort being beamed around the world these past four days? Time for the business world to spot the potential return on their investment and back this island’s premier golf tournament.
The Finn’s win from wire to wire drew inspiration from Martin Kaymer’s US Open victory the previous week at Pinehurst No.2 and will propel him towards the world’s top 50 in the official rankings. Like Kaymer’s major win, Ilonen was just as rock solid at Fota Island, with only six bogeys on his card all week, denying the field any opportunity to make a run at the lead he had first claimed with an opening seven-under-par 64.
After two years of struggle with a wrist injury, the Italian RyderCupper announced his return to form with a runner-up finish, one shot behind Mikko Ilonen. And, what’s more, Molinari’s finish has earned him a spot in next month’s Open Championship, his first major appearance since the 2012 US Open at Olympic Club.
They came in their thousands to Fota Island yesterday in anticipation of toasting a homegrown golfer to Irish Open victory for the first time since then-amateur Shane Lowry achieved the feat at Baltray in 2009. But now Irish golf fans will have to wait another year after Ilonen crushed all hopes of a home success story.
Pádraig Harrington’s neck
Harrington had gone to bed on Saturday night five shots off Ilonen’s lead, determined to make an early charge towards victory at Fota Island. Instead, his good dreams were undone by a recurrence of the neck injury which has intermittently hampered his game in recent years and cost him shots at the second and third holes of his final round yesterday to send him into reverse.
Graeme McDowell’s putter
McDowell had started the day primed for a first Irish Open victory on the course where he made his debut in the tournament back in 2002. He ended it rueing the half dozen short-to- mid-range birdie putts that cost him those title hopes. McDowell’s putter went so cold you could have forgiven him for sending it to the bottom of the lake in front of Fota’s clubhouse.