Thursday, May 29, 2014

Top 20 Facts About The Irish Open

Fota Island Resort Golf
The par four 6th (the Pros won't be playing from here
With the Irish Open being played at the elegant Fota Island Resort for the third time, here are 20 facts (below) about the Irish Open that you may or may not know...

Following an investment of €500,000 by the new owners, this year's event takes place from 19-22 June. For tickets, visit The European Tour's website. Prices are very reasonable (e.g. €70 for a season ticket) and over 100,000 people are expected. Considering how easy it is to get here (there's a train station next to the Resort, with prices from Dublin to Fota on starting at €9.99, and one of the main Cork roads runs past the island) and the vibrancy, nightlife and gourmet credentials of Cork city, this will undoubtedly be another big success.

There are various packages available from the five star Fota Island Resort itself, and hotels and other accommodation providers in the area have assured Failte Ireland that they will keep their prices at normal seasonal rates.
Fota Island Resort Golf
Rob tees off on the par three 11th
Here are those 20 Facts:

1. The lowest 72 hole score was recorded by none other than Christy O'Connor Jnr, at Woodbrook in 1975. His 275 produced a score of -21.

2. The highest winning score was recorded by none other than John O'Leary, at Portmarnock in 1982. His 287 came to a score of -1.

3. The largest winning margin was 10 shots, by Bernard Langer at Portmarnock on 1987.

4. There have been 32 holes in one.

Fota Island Resort Golf
Fota Island's par three 7th
5. There have been four wire-to-wire winners: Christy O'Connor Jr at Woodbook, 1975; Bernhard Langer at Portmarnock, 1987; Nick Faldo at Killarney, 1992; Colin Montgomerie at Fota Island, 2001.

6. The youngest winner was Sergio Garcia in 1999, at Druid's Glen. He was 19 years and 176 days.

7. The oldest winner was Sam Torrance in 1995, at Mount Juliet. He was 41 years and 319 days.

8. Four players have won the Irish Open three times: Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

Fota Island Resort Golf
The 18th green, shot from next to the 1st tee
9. The lowest 18 hole score was recorded by Graeme McDowell at Co. Louth, in 2009. His score of 61 was -11. Ross Fisher also recorded a 61, at Killarney in 2010, but this was 'only' -10.

10. The highest first day score by a winner was 78 (+6), by Thomas Bjorn, at Carton House in 2006. He finished -5 and won by a stroke.

11. Lee Westwood (1997, Druid's Glen) and Robert Allenby (1994, Mount Juliet) have the unfortunate distinction of holding a 3 shot lead after 54 holes, but not winning the title. The winners were Montgomerie and Langer, respectively.

12. Four players have recorded the largest final round come back, making up a deficit of 4 shots: Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Stephen Dodd and Paul Casey (at Carton House in 2013).

Fota Island Resort Golf
Fota Island's long par three 17th
13. Five players have played all four rounds in the 60s:
- Sergio Garcia, Druid's Glen, 1999
- Colin Montgomerie, Fota Island, 2001*
- Soren Hansen, Fota Island, 2002*
- Jamie Donaldson, Royal Portrush, 2012
- Bernhard Langer who has achieved the feat twice - Royal Dublin in 1984 and Portmarnock in 1987. No wonder he was seen as the perfect choice to design Portmarnock Links.

14. Only one player has won without a round in the 60s. Ken Brown at Portmarnock, in 1978. He still finished -7.

15. Nick Faldo is the only player to win the Irish Open three years in a row: 1991-1993. His wins in 1992 and 1993 were both in play-offs.

16. Nick Faldo also has the most top 10 finishes - something he achieved 10 times.

The view over the 5th green, back down the fairway
17. When Shane Lowry won at Co. Louth in 2009, he became the 3rd amateur to win in European Tour history. Pablo Martin won the Portuguese Open in 2003, and Danny Lee won the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2009.

18. The Irish Open was first played in 1927. In all, 14 Major champions have won the event, including Seve, Langer, Crenshaw Woosnam, Faldo, Olazabal and, of course, Padraig Harrington.

19. The Irish Open has been decided 11 times by a play-off. This is a European Tour record.

20. In 2014, the Irish Open will be contested by 156 players, battling for a prize fund of €2 million. All the big Irish boys will be there, as well as one of the greatest rising stars (Matteo Manasero) and one of the most distinguished (Olazabal).

* With such low scoring at Fota Island in 2001 and 2002, you can be sure of some fireworks at The Irish Open this June.


  1. Really excited about visiting Fota Island next week, have always wanted to visit Ireland on a golfing vacation and decided to take the plunge this year. Have heard so much about this picturesque Cork Golf Club that it will hopefully provide an exciting challenge for the high quality field assembled!

  2. Be sure to play Cork Golf Club (aka Little Island) as well, Brian. A very different experience and a beautiful one at that

    1. Thanks Kevin, I plan on visiting a number of golf courses in Cork during my vacation so will certainly have a round in Little Island and hopefully Castlemartyr also. Any other recommendations?

    2. Water Rock is a cute course outside Midleton. No airs or graces, and then there's Mahon, a municipal course on the outskirts of Cork, which is surprisingly good.