RORY McIlroy won the 2016 Irish Open on Sunday after a close battle with Scotland’s Russell Knox at the K-Club in Kildare and donated his €666,000 prize money to charity.
The Ulsterman, who had missed the cut for the last three years successively, was clearly chomping at the bit as he carded an impressive opening round of five-under par.
McIlroy then followed up with a two-under 70 on Friday, which left him a single stroke behind the leaders heading into the weekend.
The 27-year-old ended Saturday’s play three clear on nine-under after his round was suspended prematurely because of fading daylight, before returning Sunday morning to complete the last three holes in par.
As the final round developed, Knox emerged as a contender and was leading by one after 15 holes.
However, a birdie on 16 and a remarkable eagle on the par-five 18th by McIlroy earned the Co. Down man his first ever Irish Open win, finishing on 12-under par, three clear of Knox.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 22, 2016
“I don’t usually get emotional about golf or about wins, but this one, it means just a little bit more, because it’s not just for myself,” said McIlroy, whose winnings will be divided up between local children’s charities Barretstown, the Jack and Jill Foundation, and the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice.
“It’s for a lot of other people. It’s a day I’ll not forget for a while.”
Meanwhile, Offaly’s Shane Lowry looked promising after a solid one-under 71 opening round, but a disappointing day two with dropped shots at six and nine and a disastrous double bogey on the 12th, killed the 29-year-old’s chances as he finished the week tied in 23rd place.
Wicklow native Paul Dunne endured an indifferent Irish Open as a fine start of two-under 70 was overshadowed by a disappointing last three rounds of 75, 77 and 74 to leave him in tied 60th.
Elsewhere, Paul McGinley briefly rolled back the years as he shot a one-under after two rounds but a dreadful eight-over 80 on Saturday destroyed any hopes of a challenge as he finished the Open in 63rd place.
Fellow Dubliners Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie failed to even make the weekend after both ended Friday’s round two short of the cut line.