Donaldson wins the Irish Open but Royal Portrush’s famous links is the real winner

Jamie Donaldson winner of the Irish Open at the Royal Portrush

Irish golf’s top stars want the big tournaments to return to Royal Portrush – even after Welshman Jamie Donaldson left the Antrim coastline with the top prize on Sunday.

Donaldson held off the home challenge to lift the Irish Open title on the competition’s return north to sell-out crowds.

Over 130,000 paying fans witnessed the four days of action at one of the world’s top links courses.
And Ireland’s major winners hope that the success of the 2012 Irish Open at Portrush will see that tournament and the British Open return there in the future.

Rory McIlroy, the 2011 US Open winner, said: “It’s been as incredible a home tournament as I’m ever going to play in.

“The crowds have come out to support the tournament, to support the players. It’s great to be able to think I did something to help bring this tournament here, and I think it’s been a huge success.”

Portrush native Graeme McDowell said: “I can’t see any reason why we won’t be alternating this Irish Open tournament north and south of the border year by year. And it can only help the bid to bring the Open itself back to Portrush.”

Local favourite Darren Clarke, warming up for his Open defence in a fortnight with a top 40 finish, said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant.

“Obviously I would have liked to have scored a bit better, but the event has been enjoyed not just by the spectators, but by everyone involved.”

Padraig Harrington, best of the Irish in seventh spot, was delighted with the success of the event.
“It proves that Portrush is big enough to host any tournament,” said Harrington.