Sunday 18 February 2018

Major winner Keegan Bradley bows out of Irish Open at Portrush after failing to make the cut

Keegan Bradley at Portrush
Keegan Bradley at Portrush
Rory McIlroy lines up his putt on the 12th green. Photo: Sportsfile

MAJOR winner Keegan Bradley's first-ever tournament in Europe lasted only two days, but the American believes he is now better equipped for The Open at Royal Lytham in three weeks.

The 26-year-old USPGA champion made the trip to the Irish Open at Royal Portrush because of his Irish roots, but had rounds of 73 and 71 to bow out on level par.

Bradley did have four birdies in a row from the 11th, however, and said: "That was fun. Wish I could have kept it going, but maybe next time.

"I think I will know a little more what to expect there.

"I played pretty well other than about three shots. I just didn't play the par fives really well and had a couple of lost balls - that's no good.

"I hope to come back another time - I can't wait. Everybody treated me so well."

Bradley's victory in Atlanta last August, after a play-off with compatriot Jason Dufner, came in the very first major of his career. Since 1913 he and Ben Curtis, the 2003 Open champion, are the only players to achieve that.

Others to miss the cut included Colin Montgomerie, last week's winner Danny Willett and former US Open champion Michael Campbell.

Willett's exit had a further implication that merely giving him a weekend off. He had a chance to earn an Open spot via a mini money list that ends on Sunday, but Thai Thongchai Jaidee and South African Richard Sterne are currently in position to claim the two places on offer.

Former Walker Cup player Willett, who finished three over, could still make it to Lytham with a top-five finish in either the French or Scottish Opens.

Montgomerie, also not in The Open yet, crashed out on two over, while Campbell was eight over. He plays the 36-hole Open final qualifying event at West Lancashire on Tuesday.

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