No rub of the green for Ireland’s finest

WITH Pádraig Harrington and Gareth Maybin on the way home prior to the weekend — and only Rory McIlroy threatening the top of the leaderboard — it was a disappointing Open Championship for the Irish.

Harrington was the biggest letdown of all, McIlroy threw away a winning position with his round of 80 on Friday, Graeme McDowell was still suffering from an element of post-US Open victory hangover, Darren Clarke was no more than solid and so it was left to Shane Lowry and Colm Moriarty to fly the flag for the lower profile contingent.

In fairness, though, Lowry hardly fits into that category considering he is still only 22 and has been a professional for just 14 months. While he was disappointed with yesterday’s closing 75 that saw him finish in a tie for 37th along with Moriarty and others, it was a very respectable first major appearance for the Clara man. They both won €26,188 with Lowry up two spots in the European Tour Race to Dubai order of merit to 45th with €367,590.

“I’m not happy with my finish but I learned a lot from today and have to take a lot of positives from the experience,” he claimed. “I felt I handled myself well for my first major and I’m pleased. In major championships you need a bit of luck and one day hopefully it will happen for me.

“I felt very comfortable out there and felt there was a score in me but the putter was a bit cold. I birdied the last for the fourth time by driving more or less into the same spot. It was all great fun, walking up the 18th and the crowd cheering.

“I said to my caddie Dermot (Byrne), ‘sure, what else would you be doing on a Sunday evening?’”

Colm Moriarty has jumped from 240th to 184th in the order of merit with €41,388. Moriarty added a splendid final round of 70 to earlier scores of 72, 73 and 72 for a one under par total of 287.

There were a few times, he admits, when he might have given the game up but there was always the belief that one day he would turn the corner and establish himself on the main circuit.

“2008 and 2009 were kind of stagnant years but I still feel learned a lot working with Neil Manchip and this year I’ve started working with Bob Torrance,” he said.

“I think the combination is really good and has given me that bit extra and I certainly was going the right way this week. I’ve taken a lot of self-belief out of the last few days because there’s always a question mark about how you’ll perform on this type of stage. I’m happy with the way I’ve handled myself this week. I didn’t know what to expect coming here and how I would feel out on the course. But I didn’t feel nervous at any stage.

“On Saturday, my caddie Justin Kehoe (who is also a pro and played in the 2007 Open) and me were walking up and the crowds were huge. We were saying ‘this is the Open, it’s class’. Everyone is clapping you onto the tee boxes and the greens. It certainly is a special experience.”

Clarke had hoped for a top 30 spot that might have edged him into the top 100 in the world rankings and so secure an invitation to next month’s US PGA. But he is likely to be no better than 102nd (up two places) when the rankings are officially released today. That was his chief disappointment at doing no better than a 71 yesterday that saw him finish tied for 44th on level par and a cheque for €20,385.

Although he insisted that he had now come down from the high of winning the US Open, Graeme McDowell was bitterly disappointing with his putting in a fine round of 70 that put him on three under par 285.

Whatever chance he held of a second major in a month disappeared with Saturday’s 76 and his failure to take advantage of some gilt-edged chances yesterday meant he had to be content with a share of 23rd worth €49,996 and stays out in front in the Race to Dubai on €1,974,181.

“I putted diabolically to be honest which is kind of unlike me,” he admitted.

“Maybe I don’t have the killer edge at the moment.

“I tried to be focused but it’s difficult and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Maybe I could have used those two weeks after Pebble more wisely but you want to celebrate, to enjoy yourself.

“I’m looking forward to my week off and also to Killarney which is going to be a fantastic venue.”


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