CONNEMARA’S David Mortimer etched his place in the history books when he holed a monster 40-foot eagle putt on the last to win the Ladbrokes.com PGA Irish Championship by a stroke from European Tour star Damien McGrane.
The Galway man leapt high into the air when his putt from just off the edge of the green dropped sweetly into the cup at Seapoint and handed him the title for the second time after a four under 68 gave him an 11-under par total of 277.
McGrane was disappointed but he paid tribute to Mortimer’s doggedness – a quality which should stand to the Connacht man when he continues his bid for a tour card at the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School next month.
“I just didn’t achieve the scores I should have shot each day, but I can’t take it from David,” McGrane said after a closing 68 left him one shot shy of sudden death.
Mortimer insisted his latest win was bigger than both his 2006 win or last month’s victory at The Oxfordshire in the Glenmuir PGA Championship for club professionals from Great Britain and Ireland.
“This is the best one for how it finished and who I was playing against,” Mortimer said.
“The last time I won the Irish Championship in 2006, with no disrespect to anyone, but we didn’t have the tour players taking part.”
Leading by a stroke overnight from McGrane and Belfast’s Damian Mooney, Mortimer was determined not to stand back and admire his more accomplished opponent in the final round.
“Damien said that on the third fairway (our 12th hole) in the first round,” Mortimer said. “Damien said, ‘If you don’t go out there and play, you are not going to be competitive.’”
McGrane’s advice came back to haunt him in the end as Mortimer turned a one shot deficit at the turn into a one-stroke lead on 10 under par when he birdied the 10th and 11th. The European Tour star missed a couple of birdie chances on the home stretch to remain one behind before Mortimer opened the door by three-putting from 10 yards through the back of the par-three 17th for a bogey.
Tied on nine under par playing the 550-yard par five finishing hole, McGrane came up 15 yards short of the green in two before Mortimer found the fringe, hole high, with an equally brilliant three-wood that bored through the chill, right to left wind.
In a dramatic finish, McGrane almost chipped in from 100 feet for eagle but lipped out and settled for a tap in birdie.
But he saw a play-off chance evaporate when Mortimer holed his amazing eagle putt and leapt high into the air before lifting his caddie off his feet.
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