JAMIE DONALDSON IS the 2012 Irish Open champion after finishing on 18-under at Royal Portrush on Sunday.
The Welshman sealed a four-shot victory, his first ever on the European Tour, after a closing round of 66. It was a thoroughly deserved victory for the 36-year-old, who has played magnificent golf all weekend.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but to be standing here with the trophy is all a bit surreal,” he said.
Donaldson turned pro in 2000 after capturing the Welsh Amateur Open Stroke-Play Championship but it’s taken 255 Tour events to finally savour success.
“I guess it takes some people longer than others, and it’s taken me a lot longer than I thought to win,” the Pontypridd-born player added.
“The first three years went too quickly and then I was out for a year with injury, so I didn’t find my feet too soon after that, and then I lost my way a bit.
“But over the last two to three years I feel as though I have been building to this win and it’s just so nice to be finally holding this trophy.”
England’s Anthony Wall, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay were tied for second, while Padraig Harrington saw his challenge ebb away despite a two-under round of 70.
The Dubliner finished in a tie for 7th place with Scots David Drysdale and Craig Lee. While he had started the day only two shots behind Donaldson, Harrington simply had no answer to the winner’s eight birdies in a six-under round of 66. He lamented a mixed day with the putter, but will now focus his attention on claiming a third Open Championship.
“The game’s good but I’ve got to hole more putts, and that was the key today,” said Harrington.
“I’ve got this week off but then the Scottish Open so between this week and Castle Stuart, it should provide good preparation for Royal Lytham.”
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, had his best round of the tournament.
The world number two produced seamless putting to card a five-under-par round of 67, leaving him seven shots behind Donaldson’s on 11-under at the death.
Graeme McDowell went one better than his young compatriot, bagging seven birdies and just a single bogey as he, like Donaldson, carded a 66.
- Additional reporting by AFP