Bumper year for Irish golf

Peter Lawrie’s heart-stopping Spanish Open win completed an amazing 50-day bonanza for Irish golf.

But 2008 could still go down as Ireland’s best ever year on the European Tour.

With four wins from the last nine events - Graeme McDowell (Ballantine's Championship), Damien McGrane (Volvo China Open), Darren Clarke (BMW Asian Open) and Lawrie's Spanish win - Ireland’s swingers are on course to break the 1989 record of five European Tour victories.

But they won’t make it four-in-a-row this week with no Irishmen making the trip to Milan for the Italian Open.

Ronan Rafferty won three times in 1989, taking the Italian Open, Scandinavian Enterprise Open and the Volvo Masters en route to the Order of Merit title with Christy O'Connor Jnr winning in Jersey and David Feherty lifting the BMW International Open in Germany.

The last time Ireland had four individual winners in a single season was 2001 when Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Des Smyth all won.

Lawrie’s win completed a hat-trick of Irish victories for the first time on tour though Smyth won successive European Tour titles in 1980 with a week off between the Newcastle Brown "900" Open and the Cold Shield Greater Manchester Open.

However, Smyth completed back-to-back Irish wins in 1983 when he followed Eamonn Darcy’s Spanish Open victory at Las Brisas with a one-shot win in the Sanyo Open the following week in Barcelona.

Bumper Irish years in Europe

2008 (4 wins) Peter Lawrie (Spanish Open), Darren Clarke (BMW Asian Open), Damien McGrane (Volvo China Open), Graeme McDowell (Ballantine's Championship).

2001 (4) Darren Clarke 1 (Smurfit European Open); Paul McGinley 1 (Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open); Padraig Harrington 1 (Volvo Masters Andalucia); Des Smyth 1 (Madeira Island Open)

2000 (4) Darren Clarke 2 (WGC-Andersen Consulting Match Play, The Compass Group English Open); Padraig Harrington 2 (Brazil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open, BBVA Open Turespaña Masters Comunidad de Madrid)

1990 (4) Eamonn Darcy 1 (Emirates Airlines Desert Classic); Philip Walton 1 (Peugeot Open de France); Ronan Rafferty 2 (PLM Open, Ebel European Masters Swiss Open).

1989 (5 wins) Ronan Rafferty 3 (Lancia Italian Open, Scandinavian Enterprise Open, Volvo Masters), Christy O'Connor Jnr 1 (Jersey European Airways Open), David Feherty (BMW International Open)