Irish Open: Fairytale ending
The Irish Open 2012 may not have produced a fairytale win for one of the homegrown players but it did give us a fairytale ending for a fellow Celt who has been dreaming of such a moment since turning pro 12 years ago.
Monday, 02 July 2012
Jamie Donaldson may not be a household name but it mattered not a jot to the packed grandstand behind the 18th when he holed for birdie to close out this tournament in the style it so richly deserved.
As the 36-year-old from Pontypridd was presented with the trophy he struggled to contain the emotions he'd kept in check so well all week.
He cut short his victory speech after thanking the dignitaries and hailing Royal Portrush to the skies which had at last turned blue for the final act in a day packed with rich drama.
A final word of thanks and the response it brought with it was enough to leave the big man with nothing left to say. As he told the crowds they were best he'd ever played in front of they roared one final roar - this was their week as well as Jamie's.
Every day brought with it wind and rain but still they came in their thousands - almost 131,000 of them for the whole week.
Celebs playing in Wednesday's pro-am were reduced to nervous wrecks as they tried to coax their uncultured swings down fairways lined deep with spectators whose lives were in mortal danger. The sun shone and spirits were high.
Thursday dawned with the blue skies of yesterday a distant memory. A chill wind brought with it ominous clouds - but rain as it may, nothing could dampen expectations at this stage.
By the close of play more than 25,000 had watched Jeev Milkha Singh and Gregory Bourdy give the leaderboard a distinctly international look.
Bourdy would go on to dominate day two headlines but Singh was a great story to be getting on with.
The 40-year-old Indian was the first man from his country to join the Europen tour - but while he was fully entitled to bask in the glory of his seven under 65, he instead spoke at length about his father "The Flying Sikh" who put Indian athletics on the map he finished fourth in the 400m at the Rome Olympics in 1960.
A movie is currently being made about his life and if it the script is half as good as the past week's it will be some watch.
Frenchman Boudry was still at the helm when day-two closed - after adding a 67 to his first day 65.
The 30-year-old from Bordeax is a decent vintage in terms of playing pedigree and with three previous European tour wins it should perhaps not have been a case of "quelle surprise" to see him at the head of things.
Saturday brought with it the biggest galleries of the week. Almost 31,000 braved a wall of rain and by the time the clouds had emptied their unwelcome bounty on them another Wall had put himself near the top of the pile.
The 37-year-old Londoner looks more like an accountant than a golfer but a return of 67 in the most taxing of conditions proved looks count for little when compared to talent.
Donaldson led by one as day four started and while a charging Swede, Spaniard and Paraguayian all threatened to pass him he held them at bay with clutch shot after clutch shot.
Harrington carried with him the most realistic hopes of an Irish win but like the rain he melted away in evening sun.
And so Sunday closed with a glassy-eyed Welshman clutching a crystal trophy while the Irish galleries cheered him as if he were their own.
Jamie shone... but Royal Portrush and the thousands who lined its fairways were the stars.