Irish Open: Jamie Donaldson wins at Portrush by four shots

Jamie Donaldson
Jamie Donaldson

Jamie Donaldson finally clinched his first European Tour title at the 255th attempt by winning the Irish Open at Royal Portrush on Sunday.

The Welshman, 36, carded a final-round six-under 66 to win by four shots.

England's Anthony Wall, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay were tied for second.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington was in a tie for seventh six shots back, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy finished on 11 under with five others.

Donaldson previously had 32 top-10 finishes to his name since turning professional 12 years ago and his last tournament win was the Mauritius Open in 2008.

He went into the final round leading by one shot from Wall, but at one point was two adrift of Swede Mikael Lundberg who was eight under for the opening 10 holes.

But Donaldson kept his composure to finish with five birdies in the last seven holes, including a 25-foot putt at the last, his closing 66 only one off the lowest round of the week.

The Welshman, who has had to battle with a genetic spine problem during his career, said: "It feels a bit surreal to be honest. I don't think it will sink in until later.

"I'm buzzing and I'm so happy to have won on this course - I don't think we have played a better one on the European Tour."

Reminded of his long wait for a Tour victory, Donaldson added: "It's just been a case of keeping going. I knew that what I was doing was right."

Last week at Sunningdale, Donaldson qualified for the Open Championship, which is being held at at Royal Lytham from 19-22 July.

Reigning Open champion Darren Clarke, who made a halfway cut in a European Tour event for the first time this year, said: "It's been an absolutely brilliant week."

"Obviously I would have liked to score a bit better than I did, but overall I think the event has been enjoyed not just by the professionals, but by the spectators and everybody involved."

McIlroy, who will hope to take the Open title from Clarke, was happy with the way he struck the ball.

"Tee to green it was a big improvement," said the world number two. "That's what I've been working on and maybe neglecting my short game."

The first Irish Open in Northern Ireland since 1953 was watched by sell-out crowds totalling more than 112,000.

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