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Irish Open: Moynihan to the fore but a mixed bag for the Irish golfers in Portstewart

 

By Liam Kelly

The old pro Pádraig Harrington has seen it all and done it all in 22 years as a Tour player.

At the other end of the scale, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan are among the new kids on the block, still in the early stages of what they would hope can be as enduring a career as Harrington's.

Dunne and Moynihan, both aged 22, turned pro in the wake of the GB and Ireland Walker Cup success over the USA at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2015 and continue to learn more about what is required to make the grade.

An Irish Open is a big deal for any golfer from Ireland, and yesterday's final round provided a brief snapshot of the highs and lows of this weird and wonderful sport for Dunne and Moynihan.

As the Greystones golfer arrived at the recorder's office to sign for a 71, one-under par for the day, and seven-under 281 for the tournament, Moynihan was surrounded by media members, telling the story of his epic day on the Portstewart links in what is now an elite event on the European Tour.

As soon as he left the recorder's hut, Dunne came over to stand at the back of the group intensely listening to every word Moynihan uttered.

He smiled and caught Moynihan's eye. The flame-haired Dub smiled back and continued with the talking.

The Irish players all love to see one of their number doing well, no matter how they performed themselves.

Yesterday was Moynihan's day in the sun on the main Tour.

The reality is that next week he returns to the relative backwaters of the European Challenge Tour for the Italian Challenge in Sardinia, an event offering prize money of €300,000, while Dunne can look forward to competing in the $7m (€6.1m) Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.

A huge difference between the tournaments in terms of money, prestige, coverage, and quality of field, but such are the vagaries of this game, that in the immediate aftermath of their rounds, the two players had contrasting outlooks about their next outing.

Moynihan's 64 sets him off to Italy with confidence sky high. Dunne has to dig deep to find reason for optimism. "Right now, my game feels pretty poor, so I don't feel great about it," Dunne said. "A bit of work to do but it'll turn around, I know it will. I just hope it's sooner rather than later."

Dunne has earned more than €500,000 so far this season, and though it's not much consolation, he is an inspiration to Moynihan, his former Walker Cup team-mate.

"Last year, even though things weren't going great, I could see how Dunner was doing.

"When he was at home, and I was at home, we'd catch a game of golf somewhere. I'd see how he was playing and I'd match him," said Moynihan.

"I knew if he could do it, I could do it. It was just a matter of catching a break somewhere."

Harrington joins Dunne and Rory McIlroy in the Scottish Open, which starts on Thursday.

His closing 71 left him on nine-under par, but he was happy to get four rounds in, taking his total rounds for an injury-interrupted season to 29.

"I am very comfortable where I am at with my game of golf and general attitude to it. It's not as stressful for me," said Harrington.

Shane Lowry takes this week off before travelling to Royal Birkdale next weekend ahead of the Open Championship. A 66 and 12-under par sent him away from Portstewart in good fettle.

Michael Hoey had a decent week. A 67 for 11-under boosts his bank balance and his confidence as he battles to get his European Tour card back.

Belfast Telegraph

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