FJ ambassador Jamie Donaldson (FJ ICON & StaSof) clinched his maiden European Tour title at the 255th time of asking as he shot 18 under to win The Irish Open at Royal Portrush.The Welshman produced eight birdies in his final round to fend off challenger and fellow FJ loyalist Rafa Cabrera-Bello winning emphatically by four shots, to delight the 112,280 spectators who flocked to Northern Ireland.
While most players would have afforded themselves a glance at the leaderboard throughout the afternoon, Donaldson, who led after three rounds but started the day behind his nearest competitor, admitted he kept away from how things were transpiring around him.“I didn't really look at any leaderboards on the way around,” he said. “I didn't really know what was going on.”It seemed this title was destined for the 36 year old back on Thursday when he claimed his first Tour ace.
“To have a hole in one the first time in a tournament, and to win it, as well, is very special,” he added.
Donaldson dropped shots at the 11th and 16th, but squeezed four birdies into the back nine to remain at the leaderboard’s summit.But, with his nearest competitiors back in the clubhouse, Donaldson remained undeterred at the end with a marvellous second shot on the par five 17th setting him up for another birdie.
He held a two-shot lead over his nearest rival going into the last and was able to lap up the applause once his drive had found the fairway from the tee.
He finished in style by rolling in his birdie putt to finish with 66, the best of his four rounds. Donaldson claimed the €333,330 prize. He moves to €537,722 in The Race to Dubai which could possibly move him just inside the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking from 116th.