Friday 23 February 2018

Irish Open short chips . . .

Soccer-mad Gagli fails

to offer Trap defence

LORENZO GAGLI gave an object lesson in how to play links golf over the opening 36 holes at Royal Portrush -- then gave Irish soccer fans the Italian perspective on our national coach.

The windows in the Portrush apartment Gagli has rented for this week's Irish Open rattled on Thursday night when he and fellow Italians Francesco Molinari and Federico Colombo roared the Azzurri on to victory against Germany.

"Did you see Mario Balotelli?" the 27-year-old enthused after the Manchester City hero's goals propelled Italy into tomorrow's final against Spain.

"Yeah, I'm surprised we're in the final, but we are a great team with a lot of great players like Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo."

"I think (coach) Cesare Prandelli has done great work because he has made the squad half-old and half-young," added Gagli, who shares the same agent as Milan's recent purchase Riccardo Montolivo and texted him after the England game.

As for the Irish coach, Gagli said: "(Giovanni) Trappatoni's a legend, but he plays always defensively. To win now you have to attack."

Gagli, who as a boy played in the same Jacques Leglise Trophy match as Rory McIlroy at Lahinch, certainly attacked the Dunluce Links at the Irish Open, sweeping to 10-under and within two strokes of leader Gregory Bourdy with yesterday's sweet 66.

Portrush welcome eases

pain of bradley missed cut

KEEGAN BRADLEY'S frustration was almost palpable as his first taste of links golf was cut short after just 36 holes -- remarkably, the US PGA champion's goose was cooked by two double-bogey sevens at 10, statistically the easiest hole on the course.

Bradley lost his ball off the tee at this 478-yard par-five on Thursday and once again yesterday.

Though he recovered from this nightmare start with four birdies on the bounce, Bradley could do no better than a second-round 71 in ugly squalls, exiting the event on even-par.

The Irish American still expressed delight at the welcome he'd received in Portrush, albeit through clenched teeth, and agreed the links experience will stand to him at Lytham in next month's British Open.

"Anytime you come here and play this course it'll help your game," he said.

Murray puts foot in

mouth with 'Garda' spot

WHOOPS! Sky Sports commentator Ewen Murray took a walk on the wild side in yesterday's coverage.

When the camera spied two people in day-glow uniforms driving quad-bikes on the vast beach below Portrush, the Scot said: "Looks like the Garda on quad bikes there."

For sure, there's been the occasional border encroachment by the Republic's security forces, but never as far as Antrim's Causeway Coast. More likely the quad bikes were ridden by lifeguards or members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

During the first round, Murray said how nice it was to see the Union Flag fluttering on the 'mast' in front of the Royal Portrush clubhouse.

It's the only national flag flying at the event. Like gardai, there are no Tricolours at this Irish Open. In all fairness, why would there be?

Irish Independent

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