Finn’s triumph inspired by Kaymer

Taking Martin Kaymer’s US Open victory as his inspiration, Mikko Ilonen celebrated his wire-to-wire Irish Open win last night as a major progression along the road to his career goals.

Finn’s triumph inspired by Kaymer

The Finn, who won by one shot from Italy’s Edoardo Molinari at Fota Island Resort in Cork yesterday, was taking victory in his stride as he collected his fourth European Tour victory that could lift him into the world rankings top 50 and a cheque for €333,330 that will elevate him to 11th in the Race To Dubai standings.

One more step along the path to his objective, the 34-year-old explaining: “My goal has been world rankings-based and it still is. I set up my goals three years ago, when I was off for six months or eight months because of ankle surgery.

“I made a three-year plan then, and I’m on the third year now. I’ve gone according to the plan for the first two years, and on the third year, this is it. I need to get to a really high number (in the world rankings). I’m on the right path but I need to win at least one more to get to my goal. So I’ve got to the step that I can reach to my goals.”

None of the emotion that would have flowed from an Irish heart had he won his home national championship and emblematic of the nature of his victory, the roots of which sprung from his opening-round 64 on Thursday, which had set the course record for the newly-lengthened Deerpark course.

His closing, one-under-par 70 was Ilonen’s highest score of the week, the Finn bogeying the last after a rare error off the 18th tee ate into his two-shot lead.

Otherwise it was a clinical display, emulating his German friend Kaymer’s dominance at Pinehurst No. 2 the previous week and choking the life out of the rest of the field as he gave them not an inch of hope that they could close the gap.

“It’s been a long week leading from start to finish, but it was very much a Martin-Kaymer inspired win, what he did last week. I can only imagine what he was going through, he had a bigger lead going into Sunday.

“I sent a message to him last week that I rarely enjoy watching golf. I very rarely enjoy watching golf; I would rather play golf, but Martin’s win inspired me. It was nice to keep that lead all the way.

“I didn’t have to do much today, to be honest. I was a little surprised. I played good enough to score well today, so all I needed to do, two-putt from everywhere really.”

Ilonen’s only other surprise was that no-one else thought the course would be so low scoring.

“When I played this golf course on Tuesday and Wednesday, somehow it looked easy, it felt easy. I said, ‘you’re going to have some crazy scores in there’. And I had a low one on Thursday to start with, and it was something that I was expecting, and I could see from the faces of other players and you (media) guys that you weren’t expecting it.

“And I heard some comments from other players; that they were not expecting a low-scoring event, and I was very surprised. Because from Tuesday, starting from Tuesday, it felt easy for me, and in the end, I’m disappointed with the score. I had a number in my head all week, including today, that I tried to get to, and I missed it by a mile.”

Ilonen’s projected number, he revealed, had been 21 under par and he was eight shots off his target, coming home at 13 under. But it will do just fine.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox