Rumford Tops Harrington at Irish Open


04 Nissan Irish OpenBALTRAY, Ireland -- Australian Brett Rumford posted a 5-under 67 on Sunday to cruise to a four-shot win at the Irish Open. Rumford finished at 14-under-par 274 for his second career victory on the European Tour.
Padraig Harrington put up a valiant effort in an attempt to become the first Irishman since John O'Leary in 1982 to win this event, ultimately falling short after a round of 67 left him at 10-under-par 278 along with Raphael Jacquelin. Peter Lonard, the veteran Australian whose quest for a maiden European Tour title continues, was one shot further back at 9-under-par 279.
Rumford earned his playing status on the European Tour thanks to a win at last year's Aa St. Omer Open, a tournament that is co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour. While that victory granted him his card, Rumford will certainly treasure this title for its status on the circuit, and because his name is now right next to such past winners as Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie.
'I'm really burning inside,' said Rumford. 'There's no feeling quite like this.'
Rumford trailed Lonard by a stroke to start the final round at County Louth Golf Club and it didn't take long for him to surpass his fellow countryman. While Lonard parred each of his first four holes, Rumford birdied three in a row starting at the second to take the lead at 12 under.
Rumford stumbled to a bogey at the fifth, but came right back with a birdie at the very next hole. Lonard, who had trouble with a bogey at the fifth, answered with a birdie at the sixth only to give that shot back with a bogey at the following hole to fall three shots off the pace.
At the par-4 10th, Rumford hit his second shot inside 30 feet and ran home the long birdie putt to move to minus-13. Rumford then hit his approach to 6 feet for a birdie at the 12th to further extend his advantage.
Rumford faltered with a bogey at the 13th and looked to be in more trouble at the par-3 15th after his tee shot missed the green. Rumford holed out from the rough for a birdie, however, and drained an 18-footer for a birdie at the 16th to pull five shots clear of the field.
'I had a lot of thoughts running through my head at that stage,' Rumford said of his play on the 15th. 'It was a tough chip shot downwind, down a hill, and luckily enough it hit the pin. I think that was probably the point in which I sort of relaxed after that chip shot and just tried to play my own game coming in.'
Rumford then parred the 17th and closed with a bogey at the last to secure the title and give himself an early birthday present.
'I think it was just for myself, just staying in the present moment and just trying to play my own game,' said Rumford, who will celebrate this 27th birthday on Tuesday.
Harrington made an early charge with birdies on each of his first three holes. He then birdied the sixth to move to 9 under, but struggled to a bogey at the very next hole.
The 32-year-old added a birdie at the 12th and moved within two of Rumford with a birdie at the 14th. Harrington could not get any closer, however, and a bogey at the 16th squandered his chances.
Harrington capped off his round with a birdie at the 18th for his share of second.
Jacquelin also birdied the 18th to complete a 67 of his own.
Lonard opened the event with a blistering 64, but failed to break 70 the rest of the way. He carded a 73 on Sunday to finish five shots behind Rumford.
Paul McGinley, Andrew Oldcorn and Paul Broadhurst tied for fifth place at 8-under-par 280. Peter Fowler, Nick O'Hern and Peter Baker followed at 7-under-par 281.
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