• Irish Open, Round Four

Donaldson bags maiden title at Portrush

ESPN staff
July 1, 2012


Wales' Jamie Donaldson ended his long wait for a first European Tour win by taking the Irish Open title at Royal Portrush on Sunday.

Donaldson, playing in his 255th event on the European Tour, defended the one-stroke lead he held going into the final round in Northern Ireland.

The world No. 116 finished at 18-under, holing a 30-footer for birdie at the 18th to triumph in style. Three players shared second at 14-under: Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Fabrizio Zanotti and England's Anthony Wall.

Donaldson had a 66 on the final day, settling his nerves early on with a trio of birdies from holes two to four, before playing the back nine in three under with five birdies and two bogeys.

"It feels a bit surreal to be honest, it won't sink in until later," Donaldson told Sky Sports. "I played very well, kept trying to hit fairways and trying to give myself chances. I didn't look at any leaderboards all day.

"I played really good today, changed some stuff on the range and it really worked. I kept flushing it down the middle which, on a golf course like this, makes it a lot easier. It's an incredible course and I'm really happy to have won around here.

"At the 16th I pushed my tee shot in the bunker, which was a bit disappointing, but these things happen, you're not going to hit perfect shots all the time. After that I was nice to the finish."

Padraig Harrington, looking for his first PGA or European Tour victory in nearly four years, was left to rue a host of missed chances on the greens after signing for a 70. The Irishman, top ten in both of this year's majors and a leading fancy for the Open later this month at Royal Lytham, closed with four birdies and two bogeys.

Rory McIlroy, playing for the final time before the Open, had his best round of the week to head into the British major with some momentum behind him. While not usually a fan of links golf, he cut through the windy conditions to card a laudable, bogey-free 67 which left him 11-under.

Another of the home contingent, 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell, had a 66 to end at ten-under.

John Daly finished eight-under, while defending champion Simon Dyson was 11-under and Darren Clarke recovered some form at four-under.

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