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Frustrating year for Ireland's finest golfers

By Karl MacGinty

Ireland has feasted on such a rich diet of success in recent years that a season which yielded six victories by Irish professionals in the international arena will be little more than a footnote in history.

For only the second time in seven seasons since Padraig Harrington's breakthrough at the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, no Irish player managed to win a Major.

So, unfortunately, this year is likely to be remembered more for Rory McIlroy's astonishing implosion.

The Holywood native was still at No 6 when the final rankings for 2013 were issued. Despite his dramatic recent win over Adam Scott at the Australian Open, McIlroy fell further down the charts than any other injury-free player who has entered the year at No 1.

Greg Norman tumbled out of the top 10 in 1998 after leading into the new year, but the Great White Shark underwent shoulder surgery that April. With the exception of a widely publicised toothache at the Honda Classic, McIlroy had no such excuse.

Having achieved three of Ireland's six wins in an astonishing 12-week stretch after the Masters, Graeme McDowell stands head and shoulders above his peers as the Irish golfer of the year.

So great are 2010 US Open champion McDowell's expectations these days that even he waved a less-than-ecstatic farewell to 2013, vowing to work Trojan-like over his extended winter break in an effort to boost his performance at the Major tournaments next year.

McDowell failed to make the weekend at April's Masters and June's US Open, two of five missed cuts which, incredibly, came cheek-by-jowl with his victories in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, the Volvo World Match Play at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria and the French Open at Le Golf National.

Here's hoping for a better 2014.

Belfast Telegraph

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