Mednick Notches First Victory
Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin (71) and Sweden's Anders Forsbrand (68) shared fourth place at 1-under-par 287.
Italy's Massimo Florioli, who held the 54-hole lead after the third round was completed Sunday morning, struggled to a 4-over 76 and tied for sixth with Adam Crawford and Philip Walton. The group came in at even-par 288.
Mednick trailed Florioli by a stroke when the final round teed off and quickly grabbed a piece of the lead. Mednick ran home a four-foot birdie putt at the second hole to share the lead at 4-under par.
Mednick, an American-born Swede, took the outright lead when he two-putted from 20 feet at the par-5 fourth. He dropped a shot at the fifth when he landed in a left bunker but Florioli also lost ground with a bogey at the same hole, two groups behind Mednick.
The Swede birdied the ninth and when Florioli bogeyed eight, Mednick was in charge of the tournament. Mednick collected one bogey on the back and birdied three holes, including the last two, to walk away with the title.
'It has been a fantastic week and it was nice to finish with that birdie on the last,' said Mednick, whose best finish this season was a tie for 16th at last week's Wales Open. 'When I first came here and drove up the driveway I said this place looks fantastic. I love links courses and links golf and I am really glad we played on a links course this week. Ballyliffin is right up there with the best of them.'
The 35-year-old earned his tour card for 2002 at Qualifying School but that will not be a concern next year. This victory gives him a valuable one-year exemption on the European Tour.
'This win means the world to me,' said Mednick. 'I was on the borderline for not getting into tournaments in the future and I haven't had many starts this year, but now I can plan my season exactly the way I want to the rest of the year and next year as well.'
Coltart had only one top-10 finish this season, a tie for sixth at the Open de France. He fashioned a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 to share second place.
'I am starting to hole some putts and that makes a huge difference,' said Coltart, who established a new course record at the Glashedy Links of Ballyliffin Golf Club with a 66 on Friday. 'I'm delighted with the way I have putted this week. It gives me a good confidence boost going into the next few weeks.'
For Rocca, it was a chance to earn his first title since he won the inaugural North West of Ireland Open at Galway Bay in 1999. He could only muster an even-par 72 Sunday and would have a solo second but missed a four-foot par save at the last.
'It would have been nice to have won it again' said Rocca, who beat a young Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles at the 1997 Ryder Cup. 'If I had been 4-under par after the front nine I might have a chance. Tried hard but didn't hole anything.'
Joakim Rask of Sweden finished alone in ninth at two-over par, followed by Michele Reale of Italy, who took 10th at plus-four.
Full-field scores from North West of Ireland Open
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.
Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.
Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.
Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.
Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA.
New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.
Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.
Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.
Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.
Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.
Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.
Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might
Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.
“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”
Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”
“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”
Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.
“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"
As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.
Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”