Saturday 17 August 2019

Rory McIlroy saves hopes in Memphis with late birdie blitz as leader Jon Rahm hails Irish Ryder Cup call

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Keogh

Two-time Irish Open champion Jon Rahm gave 2026 Ryder Cup venue Adare Manor a resounding thumbs up after firing an eight-under 62 to lead the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis

"It's great," said Rahm, who led by three shots in the clubhouse from Americans Patrick Cantlay and Bubba Watson, Australian Cameron Smith and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Shugo Imahira as Rory McIlroy birdied four of his last five holes for a battling 69.

"Adare Manor is the closest thing we are going to see to Augusta National. It's such a special place, and JP McManus has done such a good job with that hotel.

"It is probably one of the most relaxing environments I have ever seen in my life.

"It is going to be really hard to top a venue like that and with Irish people loving golf as much as they do, it's definitely going to be a fun one."

McIlroy was three-over with five holes to play having followed a birdie at the sixth with four dropped shots in four holes after a double-bogey at the ninth.

But he birdied the 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th to move into the top 30 in his first start since his Open disappointment.

In Reno, David Lingmerth made nine birdies in a bogey-free 63 with 18 points and a five-point lead over Tyrone Van Aswegen and Robert Streb in the modified stableford Barracuda Championship.

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In a lightning-delayed Senior Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, debutant Darren Clarke banished his Royal Portrush blues with a two-under 68 that left him just a shot behind clubhouse leaders Paul Broadhurst, Wes Short Jnr and Scott Dunlap.

"Last week was a huge week for me," said Clarke.

"Triple on the last to miss the cut, that's probably as low as I've ever been in my career just because it was home in Portrush."

Mark McNulty and Paul McGinley shot three-over 73s as Des Smyth shot 75 on a day when play was interrupted twice due to the threat of lightning and play was suspended due to darkness with 24 players still on the course.

Meanwhile, American Paula Creamer made seven birdies in a bogey-free 64 to lead the Evian Championship by one stroke from compatriot Brittany Altomare and South Korean trio Mi Hyang Lee, Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko.

England's Mel Reid and American Jennifer Kupcho were a shot further back after 66s while Forrest Little amateur Julie McCarthy was near the back of the field after an 83.

In amateur golf, Royal Dublin's Hugh Foley hopes to beat the curse of the leading qualifier after he claimed the silver medal in the Pierse Motors VW sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch.

The Dubliner (22) followed his eight-under 64 with a 70 to top the 59 qualifiers by a whopping seven strokes from Fota Island's Greg O'Mahony on 10-under 134.

Strokeplay qualifying is in place for just the sixth time in the 118-year history of the event and Foley is hoping to become the first leading qualifier to go all the way and lift the trophy.

Irish Independent

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