Darren Clarke found out this week that there are major advantages to winning the Claret Jug.
Sources in the know say the Open champion avoided a speeding ticket as he burnt rubber in his €200,000 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti on the 300 mile trip from Belfast to Killarney on Monday.
Stopped by two police, Clarke was expecting the worst when an officer did a double take and enquired: “Aren’t you….?”
Clarke confirmed that he was indeed the Open champion.
Asked if he had the trophy, he quickly produced the Claret Jug and posed for a picture at roadside.
Within seconds he was breathing a sigh of relief and on the Open road again.
Rory on the double
Rory McIlroy is bidding to smash a 34-year hoodoo and complete a rare double in Killarney this week.
If the Ulsterman wins his fourth pro title on Sunday he will complete a US Open - Irish Open double last achieved by Hubert Green in 1977.
Gangling Green shrugged off an assassination threat to win the US Open by a shot from Lou Graham at Southern Hills in Tulsa.
He then turned up at Portmarnock later that summer to snatch the Irish Open by a stroke from Ben Crenshaw.
Hoey vows never to give up
Michael Hoey admits he “just gave up” in the first round of last week’s Nordea Masters in Sweden.
The Belfast star crashed to a nightmare 83 with an 11 at the 18th but bounced back on Friday with a super 68.
Hoping to produce more Friday fare this week, he said: “You just can’t afford to throw in the towel because you never know what’s around the corner.”
Seventh behind Ross Fisher in Killarney last year, Hoey added: “That second round in Sweden gave me a bit of a boost so I’m looking to push on this week. I’d take seventh right now but it would be nice to go a few better.”
Bookies have slashed the price of Rory Mcllroy winning the Irish Open from 5/1 to 7/2 following a massive €56,000 best placed in a William Hill shop in Northern Ireland.
If the US Open champ comes up trumps, the lucky punter will collect a massive €340,000 pay out.
Spokesman Rupert Adams said: “Rory looked untouchable at the US Open and with the weather forecast looking fair you can see why punters are prepared to risk hugh sums.”
Betting: 7/2 Mcllroy, 16/1 Harrington, 16/1 McDowell, 20/1 Fisher, 22/1 Dyson, 25/1 Clarke, 25/1 Donaldson, 33/1Green, 33/1 Jacquelin, 33/1 Jamieson, 33/1 Luiten, 33/1 Rock, 40/1 Bar
Top Irish Player: 11/10 Mcllroy, 7/2 McDowell, 11/2 Harrington, 7/1 Clarke, 12/1 Shane Lowry, 16/1 McGrane, 16/1 Lawrie, 25/1 McGinley, 33/1 Gareth Maybin, 33/1 Hoey, 50/1 Thornton, 50/1 Moriarty, 50/1 Kearney, 50/1 Murphy, 66/1 Higgins.
Gongs for McIlroy and Clarke
Ireland now has five Honorary Life Members of the European Tour.
US Open champion Rory McIlroy and Open winner Darren Clarke were honoured by the Tour at the Irish Open yesterday.
They join Christy O’Connor Senior who was rewarded for his outstanding contribution to the game in 2004.
Padraig Harrington was made an Honorary Life Member following his Major championship breakthrough in the Open in 2007.
McIlroy, 22, is the youngest player to receive the honour.
Barrie’s tee time
Warrenpoint warrior Barrie Trainor could be tempted to play with earplugs in Killarney this week.
The Mayobridge club pro, 30 was in contention midway through his second round last year when he heard his name mentioned by a Sky Sports commentator as he passed a giant screen TV in the tented village.
Gunning to improve on last season’s 66th place, Trainor said: “I was joint 14th after 11 holes in the second round last year so I know it’s in me.
“But I overheard Ewen Murray on Sky Sports when I passed the big screen in the tented village and remember hearing him say, ‘Barrie Trainor is up to joint 14th on five under’ and I thought, ‘holy s**t’.
“I was standing over a four iron into the 12th saying if I make birdie here I could make the first page on the leaderboard!”
He promptly dropped shots at the 12th and 13th, made a double bogey seven at the 16th and only just made the cut after a bogey at the last.
He said: “It was a new experience for me so hopefully this year I can get the score going again and I won’t be fazed by it.”