PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 01: Padraig Harrington of Ireland plays his second shot on the first hole during the final round of the 2012 Irish Open held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 1, 2012 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
The Irish Open - Review
What a week! Coming back to Portrush I was expecting it to be a great week but I never thought it would be as good as it was. I had heard all about the fact that the tournament was a sell-out, the first time ever for a regular European Tour event. Even though I knew this I was still amazed by the fans and the reception we got over the four days was brilliant. From the first tee to the last green every day, even when the weather wasn’t great, the crowd managed to keep cheering.
I hadn’t been there in seventeen years and I when I played the course on Tuesday it lived up to everything I remembered. When I played it in tournament rounds it was even better and once they tightened up the pins a bit the course became much tougher.
I got off to a great start by shooting five under in the first round, the highlight of my round probably being my chip in from short right of the eighth green. That said I felt that I played well all day and it was actually a fairly easy five under if there is such a thing. I gave myself plenty of chances and holed a few but I definitely left a couple behind me, none more so that my three putt par on the ninth, my last hole. Overall, shooting five under put me right into the tournament, which was nice.
Conditions were pretty much the same for my second round as my first - there were some heavy showers and a decent bit of wind. I ended up shooting another five under to put me on ten under overall and in a share of third place. I played nicely again but not quite as well as the first day - I held two good putts on the first and second to get me going and then from there I picked off a few more. I played in the afternoon on Friday and by the time we got to the last few holes I think everyone on the course must have been following us, as the atmosphere was electric.
Saturday was tough starting out as the rain was very heavy and it was quite miserable. However, it lasted for about six holes and then from there on it wasn’t too bad. Scoring wasn’t as good due to the weather - I shot level par to maintain my starting position and remain two shots behind the leader, Jamie Donaldson. I was happy to shoot level in the end as I finished well by birdying two of the last five holes. At ten under for the three rounds and two behind, I was right in there with a great chance to win on Sunday.
The weather on Sunday morning was miserable again and there was also a different wind, however by the time I got to the tee the rain had pretty much stopped and the wind almost gone. It was actually perfect golfing conditions; the unfortunate thing was that I wasn’t able to take advantage. I got off to a bad start by three putting the first but then got the shot back straight away with a two putt birdie on the second. My final round was a case of hitting the ball very well and giving myself plenty of chances but just not been able to find the hole. I ended up shooting two under but it really was the worst score I could have shot. No matter how close I hit it, I struggled on the greens and missed from inside four feet for birdie on the eighth. In the end I finished on twelve under for the week and a share of seventh place. It was very disappointing, as I played good enough on Sunday to give Jamie a run for his money.
Overall for the week I am disappointed as I know that I had a good chance to finish a lot higher. As it turns out I would have had to shoot a low score on Sunday to get into a play-off but with the way I played tee to green I know it was possible. It was simply a case of struggling to see the lines on the greens. I actually hit a lot of good putts but when I wasn’t sure of the line I hit a few poor ones. I got Ronan to read a lot more greens than normal and while it helped it still wasn’t the answer. This is something that I have struggled with for a while now, with some weeks worse than others. Generally when I am a little tired it seems to be worse. I am off this week before I head to the Scottish Open so I will be taking it easy and recharging the batteries.
In terms of the Irish Open itself there is no doubt that it was a huge success. The crowds were great, the golf course was super and the sun came out for the last day; what more can you ask for. I don’t think anyone, player or spectator, left the course thinking anything other than how amazing the atmosphere was throughout the whole week.
The Irish Open.
Final round of two under par 70 sees Padraig finish tied 7th at this years Irish Open. It was his fourth top ten finish this year and his consistent play will surely be rewarded soon. It was a day where he missed a string of short putts and birdies were very much the order of the day with the winner, Jamie Donaldson recording a fine 18 under par total. Three birdies and two bogies made up Padraigs card and he will travel to this years Open Championship in a couple of weeks time with renewed confidence!
Third round of level par 72 still leaves Padraig only two behind the leaders going into Sundays final round. On a tough day where the players had to battle the wind and rain, he was two over after thirteen holes but rallied well to birdie two of his last five holes including a rare two at the par three 14th hole called "Calamity"!
Padraig adds another five under par 67 to his opening round to finish at ten under par going into the weekend and only two behind the leaders. Looking every inch the Padraig of old, he confessed to a "comfortable" round as he reeled off six birdies and just the one bogie on the tricky par four 5th hole. He tees off at 1.10pm local time with Lorenzo Gagli and will be hoping that the partisan gallery will sweep him along to a second Irish Open title.
Fine opening round for Padraig at Royal Portrush as he continues his climb back up the world rankings. A five under par 67 leaves him well placed in tied 9th place and only two behind the leaders. Starting on the back nine, he made steady progress to be out in two under par with no blemishes on his card. Turning for home he birdied the par five second and par three third holes to put himself in a commanding position but dropped his only shot of the day at the tough par four fourth hole. Further birdies on the 7th and 8th holes where he chipped in after finding the rough off the tee left him five under par and the only slight disappointment was a three putt par at his last hole. Onwards and upwards!
Padraig makes an emotional return to one of his favorite courses in the world, Royal Portrush for this weeks Irish Open. The event is a sell out with all four Major Irish winners vying for this prestigious title which Padraig last won in 2007. Having held the course record here for many years in his amateur days, Padraig will be hoping to continue his fine form of late to capture one of the most important titles of the season for Irish players! Padraig tees off early on Thursday at 7.50am (12.50pm Friday) with Graeme McDowell and the defending champion, Simon Dyson.
The Irish Open - Preview
It has been seventeen years since I was last here at Royal Portrush. As an amateur I used to come and play the North of Ireland every year. On top of that I played a British Amateur here, a Home Internationals and probably an Inter-pro’s. All in all I would say that I played over sixty rounds on this course as an amateur, but none as a pro until this week. I have always ranked Portrush as my favourite course and having played it this week I can confirm that it still is.
It is the first time in 53 years that the Irish Open is being held in Northern Ireland and I am absolutely thrilled that it is being held here. A lot of people have asked me if I had anything to do with it coming here - I wish I had but I have had no input into the Irish Open venues over the years. It was a total surprise to me when I heard that it was to be held here. Coming here has added so much to the tournament and it is the first regular European Tour event to be sold out. The atmosphere and the crowds have been amazing in practice; I can only imagine what it will be like in the morning when we are teeing off. There is a lot of talk about holding an Open Championship here and this week certainly won’t hurt its chances.
I was looking forward to playing the course again as I have changed so much as a player from the days when I used to play here. My game back then was all about missing it in the right spot and then getting up and down. Nowadays I am much more aggressive and accept short siding myself now and then. In the pro game you have to take on pins so as to make birdies, as the scoring is so good now. In my amateur days I can remember hitting a driver to the 14th (called "Calamity") many times, but I can’t imagine this happening this week; although you never know with links golf. As with all links courses the main defence is the weather and I would like to see us get a mix of weather so as to test us all. On a course like this you know that you are going to have tough times and that you have to just dig in and grind it out. When you throw in the weather on top of that it can become very difficult.
Having played my practise round on Tuesday and the pro-am on Wednesday I have to say I really love this course. It is every bit as good as I remember it. As I went around it was funny comparing how I used to play the game to how I play these days. It really was a different game back then; I can't believe the scores I used to shoot given the way I used to hit the ball.
The course is amazing condition and you couldn’t find any fault in it. It has been lengthened a bit since I last played it and the new seventeenth tee is a great addition - it makes the tee shot so much harder for us and you really can’t let anything go right.
I am happy with my form and how I am hitting the ball and my putting over the last few tournaments has hugely improved. I would like to be chipping better but it is coming along. I am looking forward to playing this week as there is no better test for a course than competitive rounds. This is my last of four tournaments in a row but I am feeling good and haven’t noticed any signs of fatigue. I was more tired last week than I am this week. I would like to have some more time to get my all my preparation done but I have realised over the years that this is a week where you just don’t have the time to do what you normally do. I am able to accept that now and not let it get to me.
I have great memories of my amateur days here at Portrush and I would like nothing more than to add some great ones from my professional days. I am here to try and pick up my first win of the year and it would be great to be coming down the stretch on Sunday battling it out with some of the other Irish guys.