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Irish Open

Irish Open

The Irish Open is one of the best attended events on the European Tour schedule, with big galleries recorded during the week when this 72-hole stroke play professional contest takes place. It’s been held on a variety of dates, as early as mid-May and as late as September, but spectators flock to see the top players no matter when the championship is played during the season.

Starting in 2012 at Royal Portrush in County Antrim, the winner has been presented with a Waterford Crystal trophy which was commissioned by the European Tour, marking the first time the event had been held in Northern Ireland since it was played at Belvoir Park in Belfast nearly sixty years previously. The distinctive trophy features a unique design of flat and diamond cutting, incorporating a beautifully crafted crystal sphere.

The competition began back in 1927 at Portmarnock, when George Duncan from Scotland edged out Henry Cotton by one stroke to claim the gold medal and the £150 first prize. The following eleven editions before the intervention of World War II were then dominated by English players, the only non-English winner being South African Bobbly Locke at Portmarnock in 1938.

Interestingly, four of those other ten tournaments were won by one of the Whitcombe brothers from Somerset: Ernest triumphed twice (by four shots in 1928 then after a play-off in 1935, both years at Royal County Down); Charles won by eight shots from Abe Mitchell at Royal Portrush in 1931; and Reginald held a two-stroke winning margin at Royal Dublin in 1936. All three played in the Ryder Cup at Ridgewood, New Jersey in 1935.

In the first event played after World War II, Fred Day became the first native winner in 1946 at Portmarnock. He was followed by Harry Bradshaw at Royal Portrush the following year and Harry then repeated the feat at Belvoir Park in 1949. There was no tournament held in 1951 or 1952 then, despite a short-lived revival in 1953, the Irish Open went into a hibernation period that lasted more than twenty years.

The championship was resurrected in 1975 as a European Tour event at Woodbrook in Dublin, with Christy O’Connor Jr. becoming the third Irishman to win the trophy. Carroll’s sponsored that Open and did so for the following eighteen editions, until Murphy’s took over in 1994. That deal ended in 2003, with Nissan then headlining the tournament for four years. Since then, the competition hasn’t always had a sponsor, though it was titled “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation” from 2015 to 2018.

In the more modern era, several of the greats of European golf have won the Irish Open and four of them share the record of three victories: Seve Ballesteros (1983, 1985, 1986); Nick Faldo (1991, 1992, 1993); Bernhard Langer (1984, 1987, 1994); and Colin Montgomerie (1996, 1997, 2001).

John O’Leary (Portmarnock in 1982) and Pádraig Harrington (Adare Manor in 2007) were popular home winners but the most remarkable Irish victory at the Open is surely Shane Lowry’s at County Louth in 2009 while still an amateur, defeating Robert Rock on the third hole of a sudden death playoff. This win, on his tour début, made him just the third amateur to win on the European Tour and he’s since gone on to enjoy a very successful professional career.

Portmarnock has hosted the most number of Irish Opens (19), followed a long way back by Royal Dublin with six. Four clubs have each been honoured to hold the event of four occasions: Druids Glen, Killarney, Royal Dublin and Royal Portrush.

View:
01
Adare Manor

Adare Manor

Adare, County Limerick

02
Ballybunion (Old)

Ballybunion (Old)

Ballybunion, County Kerry

03
Ballyliffin (Glashedy)

Ballyliffin (Glashedy)

Ballyliffin, County Donegal

04
Belvoir Park

Belvoir Park

Belfast, Northern Ireland

05
Carton House (Montgomerie)

Carton House (Montgomerie)

Maynooth, County Kildare

06

Cork

Little Island, County Cork

07

County Louth

Drogheda, County Louth

08

Druids Glen

Newtown Mount Kennedy, County Wicklow

09

Fota Island (Deerpark)

County Cork, Ireland

10

Galgorm Castle

Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Irish Open Top 100 Leaderboard

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