Our top moments of The Irish Open
Now we know that golfers all over the world will debate this list. Some will agree with it and others will be wondering why a particular gem or moment is absent. We don’t claim for a second that it is definitive – but we welcome the debate.
The Irish Open has provided countless incredible champions and memorable moments down through the years and lucky for us, the Irish Open 2014 is right around the corner. Who knows what magic will unfold? One thing is for certain: this is one tournament that is simply not to be missed. Relive some of the greatest moments in Irish golfing history with our Top Ten Irish Open Moments below.
10: Sam Torrance
In 1995 Sam Torrance, Howard Clark and Stewart Cage were at each other’s throats and could not be separated as they entered the final rounds of the tournament in Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny. A memorable eagle three at the second extra hole in the playoff ensured victory for Torrance. One of 21 victories on the European Tour, it was his second success at the Irish Open after winning it in 1981.
9: Paul Lawrie
The 2009 shot of the tournament was undoubtedly provided by Scotsman Paul Lawrie. His stunning hole-in-one that year (on the 198th yard of the 17th hole in Co Louth) left many jaws on the floor. After two rounds of 66, Lawrie fell away to 30th. No doubt the snazzy car he won for his one shot exploits proved to be a decent consolation.
8: Ian Woosnam
Winning the Irish Open once is hard enough, but Ian Woosnam won his second successive Irish Open win in 1989 after surviving a tense playoff against home favourite Philip Walton. The victory was prior to him joining the elite list of major winners by claiming the Masters title in 1991. His success on these shores would go on to provide a springboard for Woosnam to thrive around the globe.
7: Bernhard Langer
Did you know that Bernhard Langer won the Irish Open three times and on three different golf courses? In 1994, Langer’s consistent approach play proved too strong for the opposition and he claimed his third title. The German maestro won by a one stroke margin over American John Daly and Australian Robert Allenby.
6: Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie broke the hearts of the home crowd when he won the 2001 tournament in Fota Island. After a fiercely contested competition, the dust settled, the smoke cleared and Monty was crowned champion. He shot four rounds in the 60s and won by five clear shots from Darren Clarke and Pádraig Harrington. It was his third Irish title as he massed a record 31 wins on the European tour.
5: Thomas Bjorn
The last time the Irish Open was held in Carton House, Thomas Bjorn came from nowhere to win the 2006 title, in a way stealing it from Paul Casey. His birdie putt at the last minute to take the 2006 title from the Englishman was even more remarkable when you consider that his opening round of 78 left him in No Man’s Land. However two rounds in the mid sixties got his title hopes back on track, with the Dane eventually securing a one shot victory to lift the trophy.
4: Nick Faldo
It was third time lucky for Nick Faldo in 1991. After being runner-up on two occasions, Faldo finally earned his first Irish Open. A fantastic approach to the 18th in Killarney set up the victory nicely. His win would inspire Faldo to achieve two more tournament wins in the years that followed.
3: Pádraig Harrington
Joyous scenes followed Pádraig Harrington winning the title in 2007. When watching the Irish soccer team compete against Romania at Italia 90, commentator George Hamilton famously said: “a nation holds its breath”. It's fair to say that as Harrington grappled in a nervy playoff with Welshman Bradley Dredge that there was plenty of gasping across the county. But Harrington found a way, becoming the first Irish winner since John O’Leary in 1982.
2: Richard Finch
The name Richard Finch probably conjures an image of a man tumbling down the riverbank as his golf ball sails towards the green. In 2008, Finch’s awkward waterside shot in Adare Manor gave him legendary Irish Open status. It is fair to say he made quite a splash with his approach to the 72nd hole. It was a unique moment which had a happy ending – he took the title and a cheque which more than made up for those wet socks!
1: Shane Lowry
The year 2009 will forever be remembered as the year of the underdog. Out of nowhere came Shane Lowry, an Offaly man and an amateur, who could surely have no hope of winning. The biggest and best names in golf scrapped for the title that year but Lowry would not be put off. It will take a long time for the joyous scenes and unbelievable outpouring of emotion, after Lowry defeated Robert Rock in a playoff, to be forgotten.
Image supplied by Getty Images
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