Saturday 18 November 2017

A memorable look back at Ireland's British Open wins

Rory McIlroy took a few quid off Darren Clarke today ahead of tomorrow's starting British Open
Rory McIlroy took a few quid off Darren Clarke today ahead of tomorrow's starting British Open
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

It feels like a long time ago since the name Fred Daly was used as a yardstick for Irish golfers.

For 60 years his British Open win of 1947 was the only Major title ever brought to these shores.

The heroics from the likes of Christy O'Connor, Philip Walton and co in the Ryder Cup kept the home fires burning in terms of international golf but a Major title was always the holy grail.

Then came 2007, Carnoustie, Sergio Garcia's lack of bottle, Padraig Harrington's steeliness and a Claret Jug to come home to Dublin.

Harrington's British Open win seven years ago was historic, and it kick-started a memorable few years for Irish golf.

The Majors came quick and fast. Harrington was at it again in 2008, successfully defending his British Open title in Royal Birkdale before storming to victory in the US PGA Championship later that year. After waiting 60 years for our first Major, this young man from Ballyboden now had three in the bag.

Graeme McDowell continued the trend when he finished ahead of the field to win the US Open in 2010.

Rory McIlroy added a US Open in 2011 and, not to be outdone, the colourful Darren Clarke ensured the Claret Jug returned to Ireland after a two-year gap in 2011 - the third time it was in the Emerald Isle in just five years.

During those years, Harrington, McIlroy, Clarke and McDowell were the only Irish golfers competing consistently in the Majors - all four were now champions. 

Fred who?

Our major champions will be joined in tomorrow's starting British Open by Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey and Paul Dunne.

That trio will not be immersed with the name Fred Daly. It's Harrington, McIlroy, McDowell and Clarke who are the ones to emulate.

Here, Indo Sport takes a look at those brilliant seven major wins in seven years.


23 July 2007; The Open Championship winner Padraig Harrington with the Golf Champion Trophy (Claret Jug) on his arrival home at Weston airport, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Caroline Quinn / SPORTSFILE


PADRAIG HARRINGTON: British Open, Carnoustie, 2007.

Harrington looked like he had completely bottled it. A double bogey on the 18th hole handed the initiative to Sergio Garcia but he didn't have the nerve either and missed a 10-footer to give Harrington another chance in the play-off.

The Irishman duly obliged, albeit not very convincingly,  when a bogey at the 18th - their fourth play-off hole - secured the win.

Major 2.png
21 July 2008; Padraig Harrington, who won The Open Championship for a second time, with the Golf Champion Trophy (Claret Jug) on his arrival home at Weston airport, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: British Open, Royal Birkdale, 2008.

No nerves this time as Harrington cruised to a four-shot victory over Ian Poulter. It was doubtful whether Harrington would even get to defend his title at Royal Birkdale as he was suffering from a wrist injury. But he carded a solid final-day 69 to win in style.
Padraig Harrington holds the trophy after winning the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Photo: Hunter Martin, Getty Images


The whole field at Oakland gained an advantage going into the 2008 US PGA - Tiger Woods was out injured.

But who knows if the then world number one would have got the better of 36-year-old Harrington.

Harrington carded back-to-back 66s to complete his hat-trick of Majors with Sergio Garcia again coming second, tied with Ben Curtis.

From Portrush, Northern Ireland
Caps 2 (2008-10). Record P8 W4 H2 L2. Majors 1 (2010 US Open). Rank 17
Became Europe's first winner of the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970 and four months later was a Ryder Cup hero as well, beating Hunter Mahan in the decisive final singles. Ended an unforgettable year by beating Tiger Woods in a play-off in California. Expected to partner Rory McIlroy as he did at Celtic Manor.

GRAEME McDOWELL: Us Open, Pebble Beach, 2010

Dustin Johnston may have collapsed, but three of golf's biggest names - Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and  Ernie Els - were right in the mix.

But McDowell didn't flinch and a final round 74 saw him over the line.


RORY McILROY: US Open, Bethesda, 2011

All the talent, all the flair, all the hope. It was all realised three years ago on the fairways and greens of Bethesda. Two months after his Augusta collapse handed the Masters to Charl Schwartzel, the Irishman bounced back - and in some style.

Four days of flawless golf saw McIlroy romp home at 16-under-par - eight shots clear of nearest rival Jason Day.
OPEN CHAMPION: Darren Clarke poses with a pint of Guinness during the press conference after his victory in the 2011 British Openat Royal St George's. Photo: Getty Images

DARREN CLARKE: British Open, Royal St George's, 2011

With his three Irish friends and rivals all picking up Major titles, Clarke was not going to be outdone.

Clarke led Dustin Johnson by one going into the final round and scintillating iron play ensured he would walk off the 18th green at Royal St George's with a three-shot victory before celebrating with a creamy pint of Guinness.
KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 12: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 12, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

RORY McILROY: US PGA, Kiawah Island, 2012

Another Major title and another landslide win for McIlroy.

The Irishman certainly doesn't like to stumble across the finish line as he stormed to yet another eight-shot Major win in Kiawah Island.

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