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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

209th time lucky: Rock rolls to first Tour victory at the Italian Open

Briton’s one-shot victory entitles him to an automatic place in next week’s US Open.

Image: Federico Tardito/AP/Press Association Images

NINE YEARS MUST seem like an eternity when you are waiting for your first Tour victory as a professional golfer.

In the end, it took a five-under par final round of 67 to bring Robert Rock’s 209-tournament losing streak to a blissful conclusion at the Italian Open this afternoon, the 34-year-old Briton holding Gary Boyd and Thorbjorn Olesen at bay to claim victory by a single stroke.

“I’m very surprised to finally win, but once I got started today I felt quite comfortable and I figured that this was as good a chance as I was ever going to have,” Rock said afterwards.

“I thought I would eventually do it. It’s taken longer than planned but it’s incredibly hard to win on this Tour. There are great players already out here and new ones arriving all the time like we saw today with Thorbjorn, so my best weeks have just not quite been good enough before.”

I’ve had good results but I’ve come up short. Finally, it’s all gone my way.

The long overdue celebrations may have to be curtailed slightly however, as Rock’s win guarantees him an automatic place at next week’s US Open at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Darren Clarke finished as the best of the Irish on -8 after a final round of four-under par while Damien McGrane finished a further shot back on -7.

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington has put a disappointing weekend at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis to bed, shooting five birdies in his final round to finish on two-under for the day and two-over for the tournament.

A strong start by American Harrison Frazer has seen him draw level with his final day playing partner, Robert Karlsson of Sweden, on 12 under-par after three holes.

Two early birdies have seen South African Retief Goosen move to three shots off the lead after four holes while his playing partner John Merrick is a further stroke back on -8.

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Niall Kelly

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