There is no doubt that the majority of non-American golfers consider the “fifth major” to be their home open. This is certainly the case with Ireland’s major-winning “big four” of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke. All have spoken at length of their desire to win the Irish Open, a feat that surprisingly only Harrington has achieved.
It will come as a huge disappointment to them, and their vast army of followers at Carton House this week, that none managed to make the cut.
Conditions were certainly tricky on Thursday and Friday, though far from brutal. Considering the lack of depth in the rest of the field, it is indeed a very surprising turn of events.
While Harrington and McDowell finished just the wrong side of the level par cut-line, McIlroy was a further shot adrift. Clarke meanwhile never threatened to play the weekend and two 75’s left him at six-over-par.
Other Irish casualties included amateur Kevin Phelan, who did superbly to make the cut at the recent U.S. Open at Merion. His appearance was very eagerly anticipated, but like his more experienced counterparts, he failed to produce on his home turf.
Both Damien McGrane and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley also disappointed in this very frustrating week for Irish golf fans.
Following Saturday’s third round, best of the Irish was Peter Lawrie who managed to get himself into a tie for 18th, seven shots adrift of Joost Luiten’s lead.
Barring a miracle in tomorrow’s final round, it will have been a very poor week for the home fans and players. Sponsorship worries have threatened to eliminate the event in recent years, and a home winner — or even challenger — this week, would have done wonders for its fight for survival.