Sunday 23 October 2016

Irish golf's best moments of the last 10 years

Published 09/04/2015 | 02:30

Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke
Rory McIlroy
Graeme McDowell
Padraig Harrington
Shane Lowry

We countdown some of the best moments from the Emerald Isle's biggest players

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Pádraig Harrington wins his first major

In 2007 Harrington became the first Irishman in over half a century to win the Open Championship. He defeated a resilient Sergio Garcia to win his first major and in doing so ended an eight-year wait for a European to win a major.

"I have come a long way," Harrington said at the time. "When I turned pro I would have settled for becoming a journeyman. It's been great to be named as someone who could win a major. To actually go and do it, well I don't know what to think.

"I know it was only a short putt, but the emotions of it. I couldn't believe it as it was rolling in from right in the middle of the hole, and I'm thinking, 'The Open Champion.' A huge amount of it was genuine shock."

The victory moved him to No 6 in the world and cemented his legacy in the Irish golf history books.

Shane Lowry bursts onto the scene

The 2009 Irish Open will be remembered for one name, Shane Lowry.

"What am I feeling? Mostly shock," Lowry, the then amateur, said while celebrating with fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy. "But I know this is potentially life-changing."

The Offaly native defeated a host of golf titans and eventually conquered Robert Rock in an unforgettable play-off.

A young McIlroy wins his first major

It's easy to forget that Rory McIlroy has only been wowing golf fans for four years. At the tender age of 22 he took the sport by storm by winning The US Open. It was his first major and he won it in style. He set a record breaking score of 16-under-par, eight strokes ahead of Jason Day.

That summer weekend in Maryland, the Co Down man set 11 US Open records, including the lowest total under par at -16 and the lowest total 72-hole score.

"Rory is going to have a great career, there is no question about that. He has got all the components,'' said golfing legend Jack Nicklaus at the time. "He is a great kid. He is humble when he needs to be and confident when he needs to be confident. He's got a great swing. He looks a little cocksure when he walks, which you need to have. I like it."

Harrington wins the The Irish Open

Another entry on the list for the ever popular Pádraig Harrington was his Irish Open win in 2007. At the time, he was the first Irish golfer to win the Irish Open for 25 years.

The entire country watched as a homegrown hero finally got his hands on Ireland's ultimate prize. The last local man to win was John O'Leary all the way back in 1982, so fans were understandably ecstatic.

A double win for Darren Clarke

2010 and 2011 were good years for Northern Irishman Darren Clarke. He had already written himself into the Irish golf history books with a glowing professional career, but a win at the JP Pro Am in 2010 followed by a win at the British Open in 2011 was particularly special.

"I'm a bit of a normal bloke, aren't I?" He said after the 2011 British Open, holding the claret jug at his side. "I like to go to the pub and have a pint, fly home, buy everybody a drink, just normal. There's not many airs and graces about me. I was a little bit more difficult to deal with in my earlier years, and I've mellowed some. Just a little bit. But I'm just a normal guy playing golf, having a bit of fun."

That's down to earth for a man with 22 titles under his belt!

McGinley Captains Europe to Ryder Cup Victory

The 40th Ryder Cup tournament was held at the Gleneagles, Scotland and once again saw Europe and the USA battle it out for bragging rights.

When Paul McGinley was named captain of the European team, the nation rejoiced. He was the first Irishman to lead a Ryder Cup side, and with wins as a player in 2002, 2004, 2006 and as vice-captain in 2010 and 2012 it was an easy choice.

Rory McIlroy was the key to the win which saw McGinely's Europe win 16.5 points to 11.5 in an exciting tournament.

McDowell with a US Open victory in 2010

In June 2010 Graeme McDowell made Ulster smile when he became the first Northern Irishman to win the US Open. He was also the first European winner of the tournament since Tony Jackin in 1970.

In an emotional moment, after McDowell sunk the winning putt his father came rushing over to congratulate him exclaiming, "You're some kid!"

Irish Independent

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