Padraig Harrington was Ireland’s top finisher but Darren Clarke played a blinderon and off the course in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
Padraig Harrington 8 / 10 (T7 -12 67 67 72 70)
The Dubliner paid a high price for his incredible play from tee to green, hitting 59 of 72 in regulation. Normally a pin-seeker, Harrington was frustrated to be consistently putting from long range. Lacking confidence in his green-reading, he will be concentrating on his short game with two weeks to go before the Open. Three misses inside six feet were costly as he took 32 putts. Frustrated.
Rory McIlroy 7 1/2 / 10 (T10 -11 70 69 71 67)
After some poor years, the Holywood star finally raised his game and embraced the Irish Open pressure. He also showed he’s learned how to dig deep in tough circumstances and not throw in the towel. He shot four rounds in the red and thanks to coach Michael Bannon he’s got a new links shot in his armory just in time for the Open at Royal Lytham. Fighter.
Graeme McDowell 8 / 10 (T16 -10 71 68 73 66)
Portrush’s favourite son looked to be heading for a missed cut with nine holes to go on Friday but came home in four under to survive. As club professional Gary McNeill said: “Having all four major winners around for the weekend was absolutely vital.” McDowell repaid them with a sizzling 66 on Sunday. Battler.
Michael Hoey 6 / 10 (T27 -7 70 67 74 70)
The Ballymoney star was left to regret a poor finish to his third round that cost him a possible title tilt. But with the Open coming up in two weeks, Hoey looks like a great outside bet for top Irishman. Much though will depend on his putter as he averaged 32.2 putts in Portrush. Improving
Simon Thornton 6 / 10 (T33 -5 70 70 75 68)
The adopted Irishman was delighted to birdie the last two holes for a 68 to finish on five under. After his best Sunday this year he has high hopes of retaining his card and goes into the Scottish Open next week with a chance of making the Open with a top five finish. Learning.
Darren Clarke 9 1/2 / 10 (T39 -4 71 69 73 71)
The Open champion performed “above the call of duty” for the European Tour by attending almost every Irish Open planning meeting, including one about car parking and transport. He also battled hard to make his first cut of the year, got caught in the worst of the weather on Saturday and still managed three sub par rounds. Trooper.
Shane Lowry 5 / 10 (T51 -2 72 68 76 70)
So disappointing has Lowry played recently that making the cut was a mini triumph. The Offaly star got the worst of the weather but looks to have turned a corner with his game. Watch out for him at Carton House next year, where he is the touring professional. Encouraging.
Paul McGinley 6 / 10 (T54 -1 69 70 76 72)
The veteran Dubliner ran out of steam at the weekend but showed he’s still got the game to contend for victories at this level. Five under at halfway, he got blown away in the bad weather on Saturday but had no complaints and continues his bid to regain his full tour card after two years in the wilderness. Brave.
Mark Murphy 7/10 (T 58 +1 69 73 73 74)
Playing on a sponsor’s invitation, Murphy showed that he has plenty of game and the talent to make it on tour. His putting was the difference between making up the numbers and contending for a big cheque but he could yet make it onto the tour through the Q-School. An eagle on his final hole on Friday helped him make the cut. Set for Local Final Qualifying for the Open at Southport and Ainsdale tomorrow, he could yet play his first major. Determined
Damien McGrane 5/10 (64th +3 71 71 74 75)
A week to forget for the Kells man but another cheque in the bank. Never got his game going in any department and will be disappointed with his performance around the greens. Middle of the road.