The Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Australia's Steven Bowditch were the major success stories in the golfing world at the weekend. Kjeldsen took the Irish Open crown at Royal County Down at the first play-off hole. Across the 'pond' in America, Bowditch made rather lighter work of his success at the AT&T Byron Nelson event, storming to a four shot victory over the field.
There may have been some golfing fans who thought that some of the potential drama and excitement had been taken away from the Irish Open tournament, after the failure of world number one Rory McIlroy to make the cut. Yet the action in the final round yesterday defied that belief, as the outcome was still to be determined as the players approached the closing holes.
They were cheered on throughout by the unswerving support of the vast galleries, with a sell-out of 20,000 in attendance. Some feat of loyalty, given that Sergio Garcia was another of the big names to fail to last the pace into the weekend.
Bad round but great finish
Kjeldsen had something of a nightmare to be honest over his closing 18 holes, collapsing to card a round of 76 as the pack closed in on him. He would have been grateful for the two-shot lead that he began the day with, which ensured that his final score of 2-under par overall was still sufficient to give him a chance in the three-man play-off that ensued. He was joined in the play-off by England's Eddie Pepperell and the Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Back down the par-five 18th for the first play-off hole, it was the Dane who regained his composure to fire in a birdie that was sufficient to better his two rivals' efforts. It ensured that he took his fourth success on the European tour and with it the substantial first prize of £294,000. Not just a nice little earner for the bank balance, also some solid points towards the Ryder Cup standings that all European golfers strive towards.
An added bonus for Kjeldsen was an entry into July's Open Championship, thanks to his result in Ireland. Others to benefit in that regard from their efforts over the four days were Pepperell and his countryman Tyrrell Hatton, who had finished at 1-under for the event.
Bowditch wins in Texas
Bowditch enjoyed a more comfortable ending to his big win in Irving, Texas at the Byron Nelson. A final round of 64 left the 31-year-old Aussie on 18-under par for the four days. More importantly it was also four strokes better than the next best player, as the Americans Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker and Scott Pinckney tied for second place. #GolfA marvellous opening round of 62 gave him a lead which he was not to relinquish throughout the tournament. Although he began his final 18 holes relatively poorly, the six-foot player calmed any nerves with four birdies in the last nine holes to see him safely home. His victory maintained the Australian love affair with the event, after similar successes for Adam Scott and Jason Day in the last seven years.