Tournament host Rory McIlroy produced a sensational finish to win the Irish Open by three shots from Russell Knox of Scotland and Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Rory McIlroy took a three shot lead into the final day but he came under pressure from both Bradley Dredge and Russell Knox. It was the Welshman who made the early surge with three birdies in the first four. Then Knox pegged McIlroy’s lead back to two with an eagle on the fourth hole.
McIlroy managed to keep the chasers at arm’s length until Knox made a significant move midway through the back nine. With gains at the 14th and 15th holes, the Scot took a one-shot lead.
But McIlroy was not to be denied victory in his home event. He reclaimed the lead on the 16th after he made a fine birdie and Knox three-putted for bogey. Then, on the final hole, the Northern Irishman sealed the title with a sensational second shot to the par-5 that left him with just a two-foot putt for a closing eagle.
Knox could do nothing about that and finished tied for second place with Dredge, three strokes behind the champion. Matthew Southgate of England was fourth while another Englishman Tyrrell Hatton was tied fifth with Germans Martin Kaymer and Max Kieffer.
3 Talking points from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
1 – This was a notable victory for Tournament host Rory McIlroy. Not only was it his first title in his home event, but it was also his first European Tour success since the DP World Tour Championship of 2015. He is now just one win away from Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington’s record total of 14 wins by an Irish Player on the European Tour. As tournament host, Rory will donate his €666,660 winner’s share of the purse to the Rory Foundation.
“Just looking up there and seeing all my friends and family and the support that I’ve had this week. To win in front of them, I don’t get a chance to play in front my home fans very often so to play like that and to finish like that today, I’ll never forget it,” he said.
Rory on how he became a champion:
2 – A couple of players enjoyed great results. Welshman Bradley Dredge secured a share of second place with Russell Knox and picked up nearly €350,000 for his efforts. In almost 20 years on the Tour, this was his biggest ever payday. It was his best finish on the circuit since the Czech Masters of 2014. Matthew Southgate, who has fought back after undergoing an operation to treat testicular cancer, produced a final round of 68 to claim fourth place and to secure his card for next season.
“My goal this year was to keep my card and this has done it,” he said. “Absolutely thrilled to bits that I’ve done it.”
3 – It was a disappointing weekend for Danny Willett. The Masters champion had been co-leader through 36 holes but a 74 on Saturday left him work to do. He still had a chance though at six-under-par with one round to play. But he couldn’t get it going on Sunday and was birdie free through 13 holes. Then things really fell apart as he went on a run of bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey. He signed for a 77 and finished in a tie for 23rd.
Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Purse €4,000,000, par 72
1 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67 70 70 69 276 €666,660
T2 Bradley Dredge (Wal) 71 70 72 66 279 €347,420
T2 Russell Knox (Sco) 75 66 70 68 279 €347,420
4 Matthew Southgate (Eng) 70 69 73 68 280 €200,000
T5 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 68 72 70 282 €143,200
T5 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 69 73 75 65 282 €143,200
T5 Max Kieffer (Ger) 77 68 70 67 282 €143,200
T8 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 72 71 70 70 283 €94,800
T8 Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 71 70 76 66 283 €94,800
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage