Donaldson leads them home in Portrush

Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 01:00

Golf:Jamie Donaldson is the 2012 Irish Open champion after final round 66 left him with an 18 under total and a four-shot advantage over the field at Royal Portrush today. The Welshman’s best round of the week meant he was out of reach for the chasing pack, with Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Fabrizio Zanotti of Italy and England’s Anthony Wall sharing second.

Behind them was Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg, who would have had second on his own were it not for two bogeys in the final three holes taking the gloss off a 65 that saw him pick up seven shots on the final day.

Pádraig Harrington finished best of the Irish on 12 under after a 70 ended an encouraging week for the Dubliner. Graeme McDowell put together an impressive 66 but it was only good enough for a 10 under total, while Rory McIlroy separated the two on 11 under after a 67.

Donaldson, one in front of Wall overnight, chose not to look at leaderboards all day and it was only once he had reached the final tee that he asked caddie Mick Donaghy - new on the bag this week - for the position.

The news was good. He was two ahead and that became four when Wall, bunkered off his drive, bogeyed and Donaldson put the icing on the cake with his long birdie putt for his maiden Tour title.

He had earlier had three in a row from the second, then came back with a bogey at the short 11th with three in the next four holes and after dropping a shot at the 16th — he was the one in sand there — he closed with two more.

Wall’s bogey at the last was disappointing, but to be in a tie for second was remarkable given that he had gone out of bounds and taken a triple bogey eight at the second.

The Londoner, without a win since 2000, played the next 15 holes in six under to finish with a 69.

Zanotti and Dubai Desert Classic winner Cabrera-Bello both matched Donaldson’s 66 and the Canary Islander’s performance lifts him back into a qualifying position for the Ryder Cup with only two months of the race to go.

Michael Hoey finished on seven under after a 70 and Simon Thornton moved up the rankings with a 68 to finish five under.

Darren Clarke was finished on four under after a 71, while former champion Shane Lowry (70) improved to two under and Paul McGinley (72) remained on one under.

Mark Murphy dropped back to one over with a 74, Mark O'Sullivan was remained on two over and Damien McGrane dropped back to three over with a 75.

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