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Dublin: 7°C Monday 12 April 2021

In the Swing: A proud weekend for Donaldson - and for Ireland

Jamie Donaldson’s first Tour win was a long time coming but the Welshman did it in style, writes Neil Cullen in this week’s golf column.

Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard

SO WE MAY not have had the Irish winner we were hoping for, but maybe we can take some comfort in the fact that it was one of our Celtic cousins from Wales, Jamie Donaldson, who was the victor at Portrush on Sunday.

By all accounts, it was one of the most successful tournaments on the European Tour so far this year. A quick scan of some Tour players on Twitter shows just how impressed they were with the golf course and indeed the Irish fans.

All involved in Portrush must be delighted with the success. The reputation of the course, the town and indeed Irish golf has only been enhanced as a result of what we saw over the four days of tournament play.

The Irish challenge itself was strong and Padraig Harrington managed to build on some recent form to register a top 10 finish. That said, he was always a little bit shy of where he needed to be on Sunday to really challenge.

As it turned out, it would have taken something really special for Harrington to catch Jamie Donaldson, who won by four shots in the end.

It was the Welshman’s first victory on tour, his previous best being two second-place finishes in 2003 and 2009. It may have taken him 255 tournaments to get that first W, but we didn’t see any signs of him being overwhelmed by the task. His birdie on the 72nd hole capped off what was overall a confident performance.

It was a special week for Donaldson in more ways than one. As well as winning his first event, he also registered his first hole-in-one on tour. Maybe when something like that happens, it is just destined to be that man’s week.

The Irish Open was obviously the big tournament of the weekend here, but in Monday’s sports pages it was somewhat overtaken by Tiger Woods who registered win number three of the season and PGA Tour victory number 74 on Sunday.

He is now alone in second on the all-time list of PGA Tour victories, moving one ahead of Jack Nicklaus with whom he was tied on 73.

Having had a largely disappointing weekend at the US Open in Olympic Club, it was always going to be interesting to see how Woods bounced back and reacted to that disappointed. To do it with a win sends a strong signal.

I don’t think he ever forgot how to win, but it must be a nice feeling for him that he is now validating the work he has put in over the last 2 years or so and is getting the results he wants.

The narrative surrounding Tiger has evolved greatly over a few shorts months this season. Some doubted he would ever win a regular tournament again. Now others are convinced he will win another major.

The more he wins, the more people’s expectations rise, but maybe that’s exactly what Tiger wants. If everyone else believes a major is going to happen, maybe that makes it easier for him to believe as well. Maybe there is less doubt circulating among the public and among the media and therefore less doubt sifting through in his own mind.

I’m not saying he takes his level of self-belief from other people, but even as strong a mind as Woods possesses has to be in some way affected, such is the level of conversation and hype that surrounds him.

Woods plays again this weekend at the Greenbrier Classic while the European Tour moves to Paris for the Alstom Open de France. Really this time of the year is about major championship golf, however, so while it’s always nice to win the big guns will have one eye on the British Open which is just two weeks away.

Tiger closes in on third in the world after Congressional win

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