Outsider Lynch grabs his moment in the sun at Royal Portrush

July 14, 2018

Ian Lynch (Rosslare)
Tos Caffrey / Golffile

Unheralded Ian Lynch (Rosslare GC) won the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at a sun-baked Royal Portrush GC. The 29-year-old software engineer beat Englishman, Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) 2&1 in Friday’s final.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I came up here for a bit of a family holiday and some golf and now I’m North of Ireland champion. It’s surreal to even say it, it’s unbelievable,” said Lynch moments after clinching victory on the 17th.
“I was playing ok before the tournament started. I won a scratch cup a month or so ago but still, this is a big step up. I played alright on the first day of qualifying on The Valley, shooting three under.
“I thought, ‘fair enough, you have a chance of making the matchplay stages now’.
“From then on I was just taking it one round at a time. Anything can happen in match play. In the first round I won on the 20th and then in the quarter-finals, I went to the 19th.
“If any of those tight matches go the wrong way I’m home early but thankfully, they went my way.”
There was nothing to separate the finalists in the early exchanges and the match was level as they turned for home. Lynch then made his move, winning the 10th and 11th in par to go two clear.
Babbage conceded the 14th when he came to grief in a greenside bunker to fall three behind. Although Lynch bogeyed 15, Babbage could not capitalise and that left him needing to win 16 to keep the match alive.
Lynch failed to find the green with his tee shot at Calamity and Babbage this time took advantage and made par to take the final down the penultimate hole.
That was as far as they went. Lynch found the fairway with his drive down the hill on 17 and pocketed a regulation par from 30 feet to take the title.
“I didn’t play great in the semi-final, kind of scraped it around and holed a few putts but in the final I played a lot better,” added Ian.

“Kieran threw a few birdies at me and I was playing par golf. If he birdied a hole to beat me I didn’t feel too bad about that but if he bogeyed my solid par stuff was winning me the hole.

“I made a mental error on 16, I should never have been anywhere near that flag. I should have been up the left all day but I almost had an unbelievable up and down from the valley in front of the green. That would have been a nice way to win but I’ll take doing it with a par on 17 any day.”
In the morning semi-finals Lynch saw off leading qualifier, Matthew McClean (Malone) 2&1 while Babbage finally beat Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) on the 19th hole.
Next year’s North of Ireland Championship will retain the same date but will move to Castlerock and Portstewart to accommodate final preparations for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.


Matt McClean and Adam Mulhall carry Ulster hopes at North of Ireland Championship

July 13, 2018

Matthew McClean (Malone)
Tos Caffrey / Golffile

The ‘home’ challenge ran into trouble on day four of the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.
Four players from the host club were in action on Thursday raising hopes of a first win for the club since Patrick McCrudden in 2011 but, one by one, they all bowed out.
At the end of the day, Ulster hopes were left in the hands of leading qualifier Matthew McClean (Malone) and Adam Mulhall (Ardglass).
This is uncharted territory for McClean who reached the last 16 in 2014 before losing to eventual winner, Chris Selfridge.
“I felt happy enough today, surprisingly, I had minimal nerves,” said the 25-year-old optometrist who beat Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) in the quarter-finals yesterday afternoon.
“Overall today I made a lot of good pars but missed some birdie chances.
“I didn’t miss a huge amount of greens and that will be hard to beat if you can do that for hopefully two rounds tomorrow.”
With seven visits to the ‘North’ under his belt, McClean is by far the most experienced of the four semi-finalists. In contrast to today’s opponent, Ian Lynch (Rosslare), conceded that two rounds in a day was ‘the most golf I have played in a long time’.
The 29-year-old software engineer is enjoying his best championship run and managed to beat Eanna Griffin (Waterford) on the 19th to reach the last four.
“Everything now is a bonus, I love it here,” said Lynch who has never qualified for the match-play stages in four visits to the North.

“I like to be attacking and hit driver everywhere. If it comes off, it comes off. I don’t do laying up.”

In the other semi-final Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) will play English visitor Kieran Babbage (The Players Club). Mulhall will become a trainee professional at Ardglass GC in October and would love to bow out of amateur golf with a win.
“It’s a bit of a surprise to get this far,” said the 22-year-old who recently graduated from Stirling University with a degree in Sports Science.
“I knew I was capable but it was a just a matter of putting it all together.”
Mulhall knocked out Tyrone Clarke, son of Open Champion, Darren, in the last eight yesterday while today’s opponent, Babbage, knocked out another home favourite Matt McAlpin.
“This is my first visit to play in the North of Ireland. I have never played in any events here,” said the 21-year-old.
“It’s pot luck that I am here at all. I was with my mate Dan Sheehan and he encouraged me to enter.
“I didn’t even know the tournament existed but when he said it was at Portrush, I was like definitely, I will come and play!”

Quarter-final results
Ian Lynch (Rosslare) bt Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 19th
Matthew McClean (Malone) bt Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) 4&3
Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) bt Matthew McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 1hle
Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) bt Tyrone Clarke (Royal Portrush) 3&1
8.15am – Lynch v McClean
8.30am – Babbage v Mulhall


Don’t miss out – Tickets for 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush now on sale

July 11, 2018

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND – JULY 09: Graeme McDowell, Major Champion and Mastercard Global Ambassador, returned to Royal Portrush Golf Club along with Charlotte Beatt, Emily Beatt and Josh Ervine to mark the going on sale of the first tickets to The 148th Open which will be held at the famous links from 14-21 July 2019 (Photo by Charles McQuillan/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, Major Champion, returned to Royal Portrush to mark the going on sale of the first tickets to The 148th Open. The event will be held at the North Coast from 14-21 July next year for the first time since 1951.
An estimated 190,000 fans are expected to attend the Championship during the event week. Priority tickets are available now for a limited time exclusively to members of The One Club.
Registration to the club is free and guarantees first access to tickets as well as a range of other benefits. Hospitality experiences have been on sale since May and are selling fast with one facility already sold out for the Final day.
Customers purchasing with a Mastercard will benefit from a saving of GB£5 per transaction. Children under 16 will be able to attend The 148th Open for free alongside an adult guardian under The Open’s “Kids Go Free” programme. Those under 25 can purchase tickets at reduced prices and benefit from free camping.
The 148th Open is only the second time that The Open will have been played outside England and Scotland, the first being when Englishman Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush in 1951.
The much anticipated return to one of Ireland’s most prestigious golf courses has been facilitated by the creation of two new holes freeing up space for The Open’s famous galleries.
Graeme McDowell said: “I am so excited at the prospect of The Open being played at Royal Portrush. The Open is a unique event in golf and one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.
“Northern Ireland is such a special place to play golf. The passion, support and knowledge of the fans is incredible creating an unrivalled atmosphere to play in front of.

“I believe that this coupled with the magic that is The Open is going to create a memorable occasion. I would encourage everyone to try to get to Portrush next July. It promises to be a magical experience for both the players and the spectators.”

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “There is huge anticipation for the return of The Open to Royal Portrush for the first time in nearly 70 years and we are delighted to announce tickets going on sale to members of The One Club today.
“It will be a historic occasion for the island of Ireland and promises to be a true festival of golf with the world’s best players facing the magnificent challenge of the course. Tickets will be in great demand so this is a fantastic opportunity for fans to get in early and secure their places for next July’s Championship.”
Tickets for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush can be purchased at TheOpen.com/PortrushTickets.  All new members of The One Club will receive immediate access to priority tickets.

Russell Knox dreaming of Ryder Cup spot after brilliant Irish Open win at Ballyliffin

July 9, 2018

Russell Knox of Scotland celebrates with the trophy following his victory on the 18th green during a playoff at the end of the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club on July 8, 2018 in Donegal, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Russell Knox is dreaming of a debut Ryder Cup appearance after edging out Ryan Fox in a playoff to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Ballyliffin.
Scottish born Knox drained two huge 40-foot putts on the 18th green, the second on the opening play-off hole to hold off Fox and secure his first European Tour win since the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2015.
Back in 2016, the 33-year-old, who is based in Florida, missed out on a wildcard pick with then captain, Darren Clarke, opting for Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters and Martin Kaymer.
This time around he’s determined to take the decision out of the hands of current captain, Thomas Bjorn, and qualify for the team as of right.
“It was obviously disappointing not to make the team being so close, but that’s gone now. That’s in the past,” said Knox.
“I mean, my job is to focus on trying to qualify for the team this year. Like I say, of course, it’s disappointing, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbled for me.
“I’ve got to head down, and just play my best, and if I’m one of those top-12 guys come the end of qualification, then I would love to be there.”

Knox finished joint second at the recent French Open and took another huge step towards playing on the team in France with this win on the Inishowen Peninsula in front of 27,000 fans.
“I mean, I wasn’t in a great spot, I guess, before last week when it came to World Ranking, Ryder Cup points, FedExCup, Race to Dubai, all of that stuff,” he said.
“To play well last week in France was big. I mean, on a tough golf course, obviously, Ryder Cup venue, helped, too. To play well there, my confidence was snowballing. I had been playing well for a couple months now but just was lacking that big finish.
“Last week it was nice to play really good on Sunday and be up there. I never really thought I was going to win it, which obviously I didn’t, but this week, starting out, Sunday here, I knew I had a chance. I was playing well the first few holes. I made great swings and I was like, I’ve got a chance today.

“But going forward, Ryder Cup-wise, still a long way away. To make that team, obviously, you have to win tournaments. Great start, obviously, this week. Last week, as well. But I mean, I fully expect — this is not good enough. I need to hammer down and I’m going to have to make that team in order to go to France.”

The next stop in his Ryder quest is a homecoming at the Scottish Open this week followed by The Open Championship at Carnoustie.
“I haven’t played there too much, to be honest. Years ago, I think I played a Scottish Amateur, Scottish Boys or something like that. So I probably only played it maybe two or three times. Honestly, I’ve watched it on TV many times, so I know it’s a beast,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s great to play an Open that’s being held in Scotland. Obviously, that’s a huge goal for Scottish players to play in their own country. But it’s obviously one of the best courses in the world, and to hold an Open, and me to be playing, I’m very happy. Might as well go try and win there.”

Ryan Fox

Kiwi Fox will also be playing in Carnoustie after collecting one of the three places on offer to the non-exempt players who finished in the top ten at Ballyliffin, the other two going to Andy Sullivan and Zander Lombard.
It was some modicum of consolation for the 31-year-old.
“I hit two great putts on 18 and one grazed the edge and one came back at me. Look, I’m happy. I hit the shots I wanted to down the stretch. Felt comfortable out there, and you know, it was close,” said Ryan.

“It’s a bloody nice consolation to get into The Open Championship. I’m excited and slightly nervous because Carnoustie is a bit of a beast. But I played the U.S. Open [at Shinnecock Hills] and hopefully, nothing can be as hard as that.

“I’ve played well around Carnoustie when I’ve played there before. Hopefully, I will have a few days to figure it out and see if I can play well at The Open.”
The Open Championship will also mark the next start for Rory McIlroy who brought the curtain down on four years as tournament host with a final round 71 (-1) that offered some hope of a positive future after a frustrating week on the greens.
“It was just an alignment issue and felt better today and felt like I could see the lines and I was starting the ball on a better line. I held some putts, which was good to see. If I putt for four days at Carnoustie like I did today, I’d be happy. “

It’s tough at the top as Harrington bows out of Irish Open

July 7, 2018

Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa

Maybe the bookies had it right all along in pricing Padraig Harrington long at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open?
The three-time major champion followed up an opening round 68 with a dispiriting 78 that saw him miss the cut at Ballyliffin GC.
Pre-tournament, Padraig had questioned his odds but the Pat Ruddy designed links in Co Donegal bit back in the sun yesterday.
Out in three over par 38, the 46-year-old lost a ball at the 13th resulting in a double bogey seven and then proceeded to drop another shot at the par three 14th.
He rallied with back to back birdies at the 16th and 17th but he hit a bad drive on the 18th, failed with an ambitious second and then three-putted after finding the green with his third.
“Early on I hit a couple of bad shots and with the three putts, you’re starting to struggle,” said Harrington.
“I had a feeling I could get back into it on the back nine, and obviously I had a few opportunities to make birdie.
“Losing the ball on 13, you know, you’re standing on the tee thinking that maybe you can get to three under par and you’re four shots behind the leader. All of a sudden, you’re struggling around the cut line. It’s obviously disappointing.”
Harrington wasn’t the only player with putting issues. For the second day in succession, Rory McIlroy struggled to get the ball in the hole and compounded matters by dropping shots at the 17th and 18th.
A second round 73 (+1) added to his opening round 70 left the tournament host on one under par and eight shots off the lead held by Kiwi Ryan Fox, France’s Matthieu Pavon and South African Eric Van Rooyen.
“I kept saying all week, it is a matter of putting your ball in play off the tee and if you can do that, you can score and you have control of your golf ball from the fairway,” said Rory.

“When you don’t hit fairways, it’s tough to hit the greens. It’s tough to get it anywhere close to the holes.

“Those last two bogeys were bad tee shots and I was out of position from there. The rest of the round was okay. I felt like I drove the ball well for the most part, hit my irons pretty good. I missed a couple of shots on the wrong side which cost me but yeah, it’s just another one of those days where I couldn’t quite get it going.
“I didn’t hole anything, really, again. Holed a nice one for birdie on six but that was really it. I finished out okay. I’m going to have to hit it closer and hole a few over the weekend if I want to have a chance.
“I’m glad I’m around for the weekend. It’s a tournament I’ve always wanted to play well at. It’s not nice missing, especially as tournament host. At least I get to play another couple of days and hopefully play my way up the leaderboard.”
In the past, Rory has shown a remarkable ability to fire low rounds at the weekend. Back in March, he carded rounds of 67/64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitation. It seems unlikely that those types of scores are available this week in Co. Donegal.
The Glashedy Links is baked out by days of hot sun and all the competitors have struggled to get the ball close to the hole a fact that wasn’t lost on Graeme McDowell. The 2010 US Open champ dug in to card a one over par 73 that saw him make the cut on level par.

“I certainly got this golf course wrong,” said Graeme.
“I was scratching my head why no one has shot a low score. It doesn’t get any easier from a links golf point of view, the conditions we had today especially.
“It speaks volumes about how tricky this golf course is. I underestimated it from a trickiness point of view. It is very hard to get the ball in play off the tee.
“There is a lot of threading off the tee because the bunkers are in play and greens, it’s tough to get close to and hole putts.
“The greens are perfect and yet no one can seem to make a putt out there. The greens are tough to read. It’s a really good test of golf and like I say, I slightly underestimated it.”
The cut fell at one over par with 76 players making it through to the weekend. Amongst the star names to miss out were Ryder Cup players Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Padraig chasing down Fox at Ballyliffin

July 6, 2018

Ryan Fox of New Zealand

Padraig Harrington has rarely lacked for motivation but being told his pre-tournament odds had gone out to 60-1 might just have provided the extra spur he needs to contend this week at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“It’s not often there’s value in my game. The bookies in Ireland would make sure they cut you to a low price knowing that sentimentally people would back you,” said Harrington following a four under par 68 that left him just one shot back of the lead held by Ryan Fox.
“I was surprised, the bookies don’t normally get it wrong, but to put me out there at 66-1 on a links golf course was strange on their part, at home in my home country.
“My performances always go up when it comes to a links course. Maybe that says I’m even worse than I thought.”
The three-time major champion kick-started his round with a chip-in eagle at the par-five 17th, his eighth hole of the day and followed up with three more birdies on the front nine to make a significant statement of intent.
“I played really badly and maybe things were starting to get away from me and just to chip-in and get myself under par, I felt like I should have been under par at that stage. It’s always nice, you know, on a links golf course to be under par, have one in the bank, so you always feel like you can go forward from there. I love playing links golf and it’s nice to get out there and shoot a score.”
Harrington finished the opening round of a testing day at Ballyliffin in a group of six players just one shot behind the leader Kiwi Ryan Fox.
Fox appears remarkably at home in Ireland. The 31-year-old, son of All Black legend Grant, won a Challenge Tour event, the NI Open at Galgorm Castle in 2016 and contended in last year’s Irish Open at Portstewart.
“I drove it nice. I think I probably only hit five or six fairways, but missed them in the right places and hit a lot of good drives that just ran through fairways and gave myself a lot of chances,” said Fox.
Tournament host Rory McIlroy holed very little on his way to a two-under-par round of 70.
“It’s the best I have hit the ball in a long time,” said Rory.
“I put the ball in play, which I needed to do, and drove the ball very well. Iron play was good. I just struggled on the greens.

“It was either I hit good putts and just didn’t read them right, or sometimes it was maybe a reaction of putts I had hit previously on a couple holes earlier.

“It sort of just got into my head a little bit. I holed some decent putts. I hold a couple of good ones for par but I’m going to need to putt a little bit better over the next three days to have a chance.”
Graeme McDowell struggled with his ball striking early on in his round but he managed to hang in to post a competitive score of one under par.
“It was one of those days that could have got away, and I was happy to sort of keep it under control and post something half-decent,” he said.
However, his playing partner and defending champion, Jon Rahm, struggled to a two over par round of 74 that left him tied for 92nd.
The 25-year-old produced some stunning golf on his way to winning the title at Portstewart last year but found the going tougher around Ballyliffin.
The Spanish star, who is now ranked fifth in the world, appeared ill at ease for most of his round yesterday with back-to-back double bogeys not helping his mood as he struggled to a two-over par 74.
“He’s a hugely talented player, wonderful ball-striking ability but he just seemed a little irritated with himself this morning for whatever reason,” said playing partner Graeme McDowell.
“We all get that way sometimes, but he’s such a talented player, I expect him to be back firing on all cylinders tomorrow.
“He maybe had that ‘defending champion’ irritation going on, a little extra pressure, a little extra expectation on yourself.”

Rory’s mind games ahead of Ballyliffin test

July 5, 2018

Rory McIlroy is focusing on an improved mental approach and a more free-wheeling attitude to the game as he searches for the keys to further success.
“I think people don’t understand how mental the game is, and I feel if my mental approach to the game can just be better, I think that could make the world of difference,” said the 29-year-old, world number eight.
“Maybe I can become a little more consistent in some areas but it’s not as if I lack the ability to play certain shots. I feel like I’ve got every shot that I will ever need.
“It’s just about maybe doing it on a more consistent basis, but I feel the way to be able to do that on a more consistent basis is to be able to put yourself in a frame of mind where it allows to you do that. So that’s sort of where I’m getting at.”
Rory is back at Ballyliffin Golf Club for the first time in 12 years and has been blown away by its beauty as he tees it up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation – the fourth Rolex Series event of the season.
“I’d sort of forgotten how good it was and how beautiful the area was. It’s a great golf course. Pat Ruddy designed it, and he designed the European Club down in Wicklow, as well, and I’m a big fan of that,” he said.
“You know, it’s a tough track. You can’t put it in the bunkers off the tee. They really are penal. You have to hit fairways. The greens are getting firm. It’s getting bouncy out there. It’s going to be a really good test this week.
“The sun I think is going to shine for the next four days, as well. It will only get firmer. That’s the way a links should play, and I think everyone’s looking forward to that.”
Rory is making his first appearance in Europe since the BMW PGA Championship – where he finished as a runner-up behind Francesco Molinari – and having memorably won his home event at the K Club in 2016, the Holywood golfer is looking to add to his 13 European Tour wins.
“If I can give myself a chance to win this tournament like I did at Wentworth a few weeks ago, I’d be happy enough.” he added.

“I just learned over the years to try and treat it [this week] like a normal week and go out and play. The more I can freewheel, the better I’ll play, and that’s the way I need to approach it.

“You always have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. I think the way I’ve approached the game at sometimes this year, I haven’t been willing to, I’ve been sort of too careful and I haven’t been willing to hit the right shot or hit driver when I need to be aggressive.
“So yeah if I can get back to that freewheeling, carefree approach, that will do me a world of good.”
This event will mark the end of Rory’s four-year stint as tournament host of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and it has given him a new appreciation for the work that goes into bringing a huge event together.
“I think of the effort it is to put on a tournament like this, and I think of the people that are involved, the hundreds and thousands of people that it takes to make it run smoothly,” he added.
“It’s a real team. I feel like I get too much credit for what’s happened here because it’s not just me. Obviously, we are a part of it but there’s also The European Tour have been a huge contributor to making this what it is. Dubai Duty Free stepped up and put a lot of money into sponsorship.
“It’s hard to justify spending millions of Euros a year sponsoring a tournament, but they had faith in the tournament and we are fortunate they came on board when they did and they will continue to support the tournament.”
Joining the four-time Major Champion on the Inishowen peninsular is World Number Five Jon Rahm, who is defending in Ireland following his emphatic six-shot victory at Portstewart Golf Club last year.
The Spaniard, who followed in the footsteps of countrymen Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia when he triumphed on the Emerald Isle, goes in search of a third Rolex Series title.

Irish Open – GMAC, Lowry and Harrington look ahead to Ballyliffin

July 4, 2018

Graeme McDowell arrived at Ballyliffin on Tuesday afternoon but his missing golf clubs were still nowhere to be seen.
The 2010 US Open champion’s clubs went AWOL after he flew in to Manchester following his tied 37th-placed finish at the French Open on Sunday.
He had been scheduled to compete for a place at The Open in qualifying at St Anne’s but without his clubs, he made the decision to fly to Ballyliffin.
“I think a lot of people were upset I withdrew today, they couldn’t understand why I didn’t get another set of clubs and try and qualify,” said Graeme.
“If this had been my last chance saloon today, if there weren’t three spots available this weekend and three spots available next week in Scotland then of course I would have tried – I’d try anything to play in The Open, but with this week ahead of me I felt playing 36 holes at St Anne’s today with another set of clubs and in tough conditions with only three spots up for grabs, I just didn’t think the odds were in my favour.
“The sensible thing was to get over here, build myself a set of backup clubs just in case – this was before I knew today that hopefully I’ll have my clubs in my possession tomorrow morning – and hopefully all will end well and I’ll be ready to go for the Irish Open.

Lowry fighting rankings slide
Frustrated Shane Lowry is hoping for a change of fortune this week at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to halt his slide down the world rankings.
Lowry’s last professional victory was in 2015 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational but he has failed to build on that success. Having reached a career-high of 17th in the world following that WGC victory he has now drifted out to 90th.
“What I’ve been trying to do the last couple of years, playing both tours, travelling literally all around the world to play tournaments, has not been easy,” Lowry said ahead of this week’s £5.3million event at Ballyliffin.
“I feel like my world ranking and my golf has suffered a little bit because of it. When this season comes to a close on the PGA Tour I’m going to have to sit down and have a look at it and see what I’m doing going forward. I’m going to probably have to change something. I don’t know what that’s going to be.

“I go out there every day, I play and I practise more than I’ve ever done. I’ve tried to do everything better than I’ve ever done, and when it’s not going your way, it’s just not going your way.”

BALLYLIFFIN, IRELAND – JULY 03: Padraig Harrington of Ireland answers questions from the press ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club on July 3, 2018 in Ballyliffin, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Harrington demands rule change in wake of Mickelson US Open meltdown
Padraig Harrington has called for a rule change in the wake of Phil Mickelson’s now infamous US Open rules infraction. The Dubliner described Mickelson’s Shinnecock Hills meltdown as a ‘moment of madness’ adding that he couldn’t, ‘defend the indefensible’.
Playing in the third round, US star Mickelson was already four over par and facing a 12-footer for bogey on the 13th green when his putt raced past the cup.
As his ball reached the slope at the front of the green, the 46-year-old jogged to catch up with the moving ball and smacked it back toward the cup. He marked that ball and holed the putt for a triple but was later assessed a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball, turning his quadruple-bogey eight into a 10.
The five-time major winner later apologised revealing he was “embarrassed” by his actions.
“I think as bizarre as the incident was, I think it would have been simpler for him just to come out and say, it got to me and I made a crazy error of judgment,” said Harrington speaking ahead of this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation,

“You know, you don’t want to defend the indefensible, basically, is what he went about doing.

“Yeah, I don’t think, you’d never imagined it would have happened before it happened. Yeah, you really can’t defend the indefensible. That’s it in the end of the day.
“It wasn’t a nice thing to see. It shouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t advocate it being allowed to happen again, and if necessary, there needs to be a rule change. If they are happy that you can consciously make a stroke on a moving ball, you know, that should be changed. It definitely should be changed.
“And clearly it wasn’t in his best interest to do it. He could have taken a stroke and distance and would have been putting for two shots less if he took a stroke and distance, so it wasn’t a clever thing to do. As he said, it was a conscious effort; that he thought this is a good idea, but it was, as I say, you can’t really defend the indefensible.”

Thornton, O’Briain, Moriarty and McNamara come through DDF Irish Open qualifier at Rosapenna

July 2, 2018


At Rosapenna – (l-r) 2018 captain, Liam Breen; Michael McCumiskey, PGA in Ireland Regional Manager, Cian McNamara, Colm Moriarty, Simon Thornton, Neil O’Briain and John Casey, Director, Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort


Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) edged out Neil O’Briain (Old Conna GC) on the first play-off hole to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open qualifier at Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.
In doing so the 41-year-old claimed the €6000 first prize and earned a place in this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin where he will be joined by O’Briain, third-placed Colm Moriarty (Glasson Hotel) and Cian McNamara (Monkstown GC).
The scorching weather that had marked out the practice day and the opening round on Saturday was replaced on Sunday by cloudy skies and a stronger breeze that tested the players.
“It was a battle but I’m used to that from practicing at Newcastle,” said Thornton.
“Overall, I played two good rounds. I played lovely, only one sloppy shot which cost me a bogey on the last but I committed to everything. I’m delighted obviously.”
Thornton and O’Briain finished the 36-hole event locked together on five under par, while Moriarty ended the tournament on four under.
“I have only played Ballyliffin twice in the PGA Pro-Am. My memory is that it is a really, really good course,” said Moriarty.

“I’m looking forward to a great event. If the wind blows, it will be a great challenge.”

The fourth place at Ballyliffin went to Cian McNamara who hung on to beat Europro Tour regular, Kevin Phelan on the second play-off hole after both finished the event on two under par.
“I haven’t been in that situation for a long time so today I just said that I need to stick to my game plan and not look at what is going on around me,” said McNamara.
“I stuck to my plan and I holed a crucial putt on the 17th in normal play. In the play-off I hit the same clubs off the tees. I was unfortunate to three-putt the opening play-off hole and then I got lucky on the second play-off hole when Kevin just tugged his second shot into a bad lie.
“It is a huge boost, it’s not something I thought I would ever get playing in again because I really haven’t had a lot of time to put into my game but now I have qualified for another Irish Open with the wife caddying, it’s been a great couple of days.”

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open qualifier final leaderboard

O’Briain and Moriarty lead the way at Rosapenna in Irish Open qualifier

July 1, 2018

Neil O’Briain (Old Conna GC) and Colm Moriarty (Glasson GC) are in pole position to secure their places at next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open following the first round of qualifying at Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.
O’Briain and Moriarty mastered tricky conditions on the fast and firey Sandy Hills Links to sign for a pair of 65s ahead of Sunday’s final round.
Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) is a shot further back on four under, with David Higgins (Waterville) and Cian McNamara (Monkstown GC) on three under.
“The course is tricky, there is no doubt about it,” said Moriarty who was delighted with his start.

“It’s breezy and it’s hard to get the ball close to the hole. You have to get it on the fairway first of all but then you have to control your second shots into the greens because they are pretty firm with the spell of weather we’ve been having.”

The morning starters definitely had the best of the going on Saturday and that was reflected in the scoring with eight of the top 10 teeing off before 9am.
As the sun beat down it became more testing and in that context, amateur James Sugrue (Mallow) who carded a one-under 71 and Stuart Grehan (Team Ireland) who signed for a 70 (-2) produced some high-quality golf.
“I played really nicely. I’m really happy with that,” said O’Briain, winner of the recent Slieve Russell Masters Pro-Am.
“You just have to accept that you are going to miss putts and get the odd bad bounce even if you play a good shot. I made a few bogeys today that didn’t come from a bad shot, I just got a bad bounce and couldn’t get it up and down.
“You have to place your ball off the tee and take the trouble out of the equation as best that you can without leaving yourself a long way into the greens.”
The four leading players after the conclusion of play on Sunday will each earn a place in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin with the winner collecting a first prize of €6000.
In the event of a tie for first place there will be a play-off and if required, there will also be a play-off to decide on fourth place.
The leaders will get underway at approximately 1.30pm.