Donaldson sneaks under the radar

Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 00:00

Some weeks it’s just a matter of hanging around, trying not to look too shifty and hoping nobody notices you until it’s too late. Jamie Donaldson shared the lead here on Thursday night but was seen as strictly an undercard turn compared to his co-leader Justin Rose.

He was a shot off the lead on Friday night but all anyone wanted to talk about was Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods missing the cut. He came into yesterday’s final round two shots back of Rose, a card-carrying member of the peloton as the world number five was expected to climb into the clouds.

Yet in the end, he hung in there long enough to be the one who took advantage when Rose stumbled. His final round of 68 lifted him to 15-under-par, a stroke clear of the long-time leader as well as rising Danish player Thorbjorn Olesen. Both Rose and Olesen had birdie putts on the final green to force a play-off but neither managed to hole out, handing the 37-year-old Donaldson only his second tour victory.


His first, last year’s Irish Open at Portrush, came in his 255th professional tournament; this one has come just 14 starts later. “It’s awesome,” he said afterwards. “This is one of the best fields I’ve ever played in. To win here is crazy, after that start of the week when I played in the Pro-Am and thought that this golf course is just too difficult.

“You never know in this game, you really don’t. I remember playing at Portrush in the practise rounds and saying to Mick [Donaghy, his caddie] that it was brutal and that level par might win by the end of the week. I think I won on 17 or 18 under in the end. So you really don’t know with this game.”

This was a careless spillage for Rose. He hadn’t had so much as a hair out of place all week before yesterday but he made the fatal mistake of being too careful as the round began here.

For the first time all week, he got to the turn on the same mark as he’d hit off the first tee. By the time he started putting birdies together, Donaldson and David Howell had caught him.

Howell took himself out of the picture with a hapless four-putt from four feet on the 13th but Donaldson kicked on and holed long putts on the 14th and 15th to go into the lead. By the time Rose copped that he was in a proper race, the line was fast approaching. Too fast for Rose, as it turned out.

On the Irish front, it turned out to be a middling week and no more.

Pádraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie finished tied for 23rd spot on five-under, the sort of early season result that chimes with the Hippocratic Oath – first, do no harm. For Harrington, yesterday’s 69 was his best score of the week, albeit that you wouldn’t have guessed as much to listen to him afterwards.

“I didn’t play my best the last couple of days even though I did a lot of practice, and it’s just that I lost a bit of my timing,” he said. “I go away feeling pretty good about my game but the result was something I’m not too happy with. If you told me I would finish around 20th this week I wouldn’t have turned up.”

More chipper

Despite taking a stroke more to get around than Harrington, Lawrie was altogether more chipper with how his week had gone. “Nice to get back into it after a long break, four weeks,” he said. “Mentally I was very good on the golf course. Made one or two mistakes today but in general, I was very good and played smart. You need to do that round here. The distance control was good. The work I did with my coach Brendan McDaid, now of Spawell, has been good. The driver is improving. So, all in all, it’s not too bad – I putted lovely this week.”

Gareth Maybin shot a final round 73 to finish tied for 37th on two-under and Michael Hoey’s 71 left him on two-over and a tie for 61st.

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