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Donaldson lands maiden tour crown

Welshman Jamie Donaldson finally landed his first European Tour title at the 255th attempt.

The 36-year-old, who had 32 top-10 finishes to his name since turning professional 12 years ago, won the Irish Open at Royal Portrush by four shots from England's Anthony Wall, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti.

Donaldson was overtaken by Swede Mikael Lundberg early in the day, but kept his composure and with five birdies in the last seven holes closed with a superb 66, only one off the lowest round of the week.

In the first Irish Open in Northern Ireland since 1953, an event watched by sell-out crowds totalling more than 112,000, he posted an 18-under-par total of 270. The week had also included his first hole-in-one on the circuit - and he began it at Sunningdale by qualifying for The Open after a round of 62.

Donaldson, one in front of Wall overnight, chose not to look at leaderboards all day and it was only once he had reached the final tee that he asked caddie Mick Donaghy - new on the bag this week - for the position.

The news was good. He was two ahead and that became four when Wall, bunkered off his drive, bogeyed and Donaldson put the icing on the cake with his long birdie putt.

He had earlier had three in a row from the second, then came back with a bogey at the short 11th with three in the next four holes and after dropping a shot at the 16th - he was the one in sand there - he closed with two more.

Wall's bogey at the last was disappointing, but to be in a tie for second was remarkable given that he had gone out of bounds and taken a triple bogey eight at the second.

The Londoner, without a win since 2000, played the next 15 holes in six under to finish with a 69.

Zanotti and Dubai Desert Classic winner Cabrera-Bello both matched Donaldson's 66 and the Canary Islander's performance lifts him back into a qualifying position for the Ryder Cup with only two months of the race to go.


From Belfast Telegraph