by Jeff Skinner
It was a long time coming on the European Tour for both the winner and the host course at The Irish Open. Jamie Donaldson claimed the Irish Open after 255 starts on the Euro Tour. Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush hosted a top flight tournament for the first time in 59 years and by all accounts it was a grand success.
While the Irish fans didn’t get a native son as a winner they turned out to support the tournament in record numbers. This tournament broke all attendance records for a European Tour event with over 130,000 fans braving the weather.
Donaldson, from Wales, has played on the European tour for twelve years and his first win was as sweet as he dreamed it. “That was just as I imagined in my dreams. To win at a great course, with such a great crowd, well, you couldn’t have written it.”
Looking for the feel good story of the weekend? It’s the Constellation Senior Players Championship winner Joe Daley. I first noticed Daley on Saturday and how thin he was when The Golf Channel switched to him immediately after showing a shot of Mark Calcavecchia. Now, I love Calc, as he has a silhouette that is unmistakable so when they showed Daley, I said now there’s an odd couple.
Daley turned professional 20 years ago and was still searching for his first PGA or Champions Tour win. All he had to do was beat legends like Couples, Lehman and Calc. He didn’t flinch, played solid golf and took home the trophy with a two stroke win over Tom Lehman. Daley had played sporadically on the PGA Tour from 1994-2007 and had only one top ten finish. In his previous ten starts on the Champions Tour he had one top ten but this win certainly makes his season. He is now exempt for one full year on the Champions Tour and gets into next year’s Players Championship. Dreams do come true out here.
Ai Miyazato came from five shots off the lead at The NW Arkansas Championship to claim her ninth LPGA Tour victory. Veronica Felibert had led the field at the start but the 723rd ranked player in the world faded with a one over par 71 to finish tied for fourth. Miyazato’s six under par 65 gave he a one stroke win over a charging Azahara Munoz and Mika Miyazato. Mika Miyazato (no relation) had a chance to tie with a birdie on the eighteenth but her putt slipped by.