Sport Golf

Sunday 22 January 2017

Rock blows away Baltray demons

Bernie McGuire

Published 13/06/2011 | 05:00

Robert Rock finally buried his Baltray demons to win the BMW Italian Open in front of a Turin crowd he described as a lot less 'awkward and uncomfortable' than the one he faced in the 2009 Irish Open.

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The 34-year-old Englishman led from start to finish and capped his final-day 67 with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch mid-round to win by a stroke with a 21-under-par tally.

Rock is contesting his tenth year on the European Tour and his first victory comes in his 209th Tour start.

However, just over two years ago, he and Shane Lowry went into the final round of the Irish Open tied at 16-under par and 18 holes later there was still no separating them.

However, an overwhelming patriotic home crowd helped deliver the then amateur Lowry victory after a play-off on the rain-drenched Co Louth links.

There was similarly huge support here in Turin for the Italian pair of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, with Molinari looking to win the event for a second occasion, and on the Royal Park course where he grew up. However, the duo, who were rushing to catch a private jet bound for this week's US Open, finished in a share of eighth at 16-under.

"It was a completely different pressure for me out there today, even with Francesco and Matteo in with a chance of victory," said Rock. "But there was a lot of support for me all the way around the course and I really, really appreciated that as it does make it a lot easier. The last time at the Irish Open was awkward and a bit uncomfortable at times."

Rock put himself under pressure after carving his tee-shot at the 17th into trees but, in a manner that would have done Seve Ballesteros proud, he found a gap and cleared a water hazard. He then managed to get up-and-down from 100 yards, holing a testing putt to do so, to retain a one-shot lead.

Denmark's Thornbjorn Olesen claimed a share of second with a blistering 10-under par 62 that included an outward nine of 29.

Darren Clarke carded a final-round 68 to share 46th place at eight-under par, while Damien McGrane, who plays in a two-day pro-am starting today at Slieve Russell, shot a last-round 70 for a share of 52nd place at seven-under.

Irish Independent

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