Kjeldsen clinches Irish Open crown

Soren Kjeldsen won the first hole of a playoff to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Sunday afternoon.

The Dane, who started the final round at Royal County Down with a two strokes lead, defeated Eddie Pepperell and Bernd Wiesberger on the first replay of the 18th to end a six year win drought.

Kjeldsen would stumble to a five over 76 to leave him on two under in trying conditions. Players had been as low as six under for the event but in the end, just five players would manage to stay under par on an unforgiving course with high winds and squalls of rain.

The only others under par were Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Tyrrell Hatton of England who tied for fourth, both on one under.

Kjeldsen looked as though he could fall from grace after he double bogeyed the par four eighth. But he bounced back to birdie the 12th. While Kjeldsen dropped a shot on the 14th and three-putted for a bogey on the 17th, he only needed a par on the final par five to secure a spot in a playoff.

On the return to the 18th, Kjeldsen split the fairway, while Cabrera-Bello and Wiesberger were both in the first cut. He found the green on his second while the others missed. Kjeldsen would have a four footer for the win, which he nearly made a hash of as the ball rolled around the lip of hole.

After missing the cut for the third time in a row at the Irish Open, tournament host Rory McIlroy was there to represent the Rory Foundation and present Kjeldsen with the trophy.

“Three weeks ago I was 112th in the Order of Merit and my game was not in good shape,” revealed the 40-year-old on europeantour.com.

“With turning 40, you wonder was that it? Now I am standing here and it’s pretty remarkable really.

“The last breath I took was on about the 14th. I have never been as nervous as this in the other tournaments I have won.

“I had decided not to look at leaderboards but once I started dropping shots I started looking because it gave me a little pleasure that I wasn’t the only one struggling because it was such a brutal day. I was leaking shots left, right and centre but made a great up and down on 15 and the three-wood second shot in the play-off was pretty special.”

The victory also earns Kjeldsen entry into The Open Championship, which takes place at St Andrews in July.