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Flake shortages, GAA jerseys and a pulsating finish

Shane Lowry finished as the best of the Irish at Mount Juliet.

Updated Jul 3rd 2022, 10:00 PM

WATCHING PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON munch on a 99 ice cream while walking up the 15th fairway at Mount Juliet likely wasn’t on many people’s bingo list for things to happen during the final round of the Horizon Irish Open, but then this tournament tends to surprise.

padraig-harrington-on-the-18th-green-after-finishing-his-round Padraig Harrington on the 18th green after finishing his round. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Feeling peckish, the US Senior Open champion had wife Caroline run ahead and buy one for him and one for caddy Ronan Flood, which she delivered between the 14th green and 15th tee to the laughter and cheers of the early morning Irish crowd.

“It was a particularly nice 99,” smiled Harrington. “Even though there’s a shortage of flakes, there was a nice flake in it as well. I’m not sure if it was a Cadbury’s flake, it was very skinny!”

It was a bit of light relief in a round that threatened to be so much more, Harrington drawing in a huge crowd after birdieing his first five holes, then adding one more before the turn to go out in 30, the lowest front nine of anybody this week, and move just four shots off the lead at 10-under.

Unfortunately, his third shot at the par-five 10th clattered into a tree and led to a double-bogey, and his round never recovered. By the time he reached the 15th and his long-awaited ice cream, he had strung together four straight pars, and dropped shots after the frozen treat at the 16th and 18th saw him close with a 69 to end the week seven-under and in a tie for 30th.

But this was another week where Harrington reminded you that, even at the age of 50, he’s still able to mix it with the best of them. If he had turned in the same score on the back-nine – unlikely, but let’s have some fun – then he would have set the initial clubhouse target at 16-under, which would have seen him finish tied-third in the end.
That would have been a major storyline to go with the dramatic finish that saw Adrian Meronk crowned champion.

Harrington was joined on seven-under by Séamus Power, who finished with a four-under 68 and will wonder what could have been had his Saturday display not been so dismal. The Waterford man, who played alongside Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney (-4 after a 70) in the final round, now begins his preparation for The Open and his latest Major bid in his whirlwind rise.

In a week where there wasn’t much Irish representation at the top of the leaderboard, having an all-Irish pairing on Sunday was at least some fan service, even if to see them off at the first you would have had to drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for their 7:53am tee time.

In the end, Shane Lowry ended up the best of the Irish both on the day and in the tournament with a closing five-under 67, and at 12-under-par he finished in a share of ninth. Chances are if you’d offered that to him when he was three shots off the cut line with four holes to play on Friday evening, he’d have snapped your hand off.

shane-lowry-acknowledges-the-crowd-after-he-sinks-his-final-putt-of-the-round-on-the-18th Shane Lowry acknowledges the crowd after he sinks his final putt of the round on the 18th. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

After playing his final 40 holes of the tournament in 13-under, you wonder what if he had started as well as he finished. All he needed to be was eight-under for his first 32 holes to win as opposed to walking down the 18th while the leaders were making the turn.

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It didn’t stop the sold-out Mount Juliet crowd roaring him down the final hole, though. If making the weekend with that incredible four-birdie finish on Friday evening wasn’t reward in itself, then that ovation was.

“Last time I remember that I was walking down with a six-shot lead in Portrush. It was an amazing week here in Kilkenny and I really enjoyed my time here. The crowds were incredible,” he enthused.

“I loved every part of it. Stressful to start the week. Stressful few days early on. But I did really enjoy my weekend.”

There was one downside to his Sunday, though, the ardent Offaly supporter discovering just before he holed out for birdie on the 17th that his county’s minor hurlers had lost their All-Ireland final to Tipperary at the death.

The Offaly jersey he had stashed in his bag that he was planning on wearing down the final fairway in case of victory never made an appearance.

Flake shortages, GAA jerseys and a pulsating finish. The K Club has a lot to live up to next year.

About the author:

Adam McKendry  / Reports from Mount Juliet

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