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Ireland and the Majors


Above: Graeme McDowell holding the US Open trophy with his father after Sunday play at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Pebble Beach, CA . Below: Darren Clarke talks to the media following his victory in The 140th Open


Championship at Royal St George’s on July 18, 2011 in Sandwich, England


Island in Cork where he won the Irish Amateur Open in 1995 and at Lahinch where he won the Irish Amateur Close in 1995 and Rosses Point where he won the West of Ireland in 1994.


There are four ‘provincial’ championships in Irish golf – the West of Ireland, the East of the Ireland, the North of Ireland and the South of Ireland – which are traditionally played on the same courses each year


And – wouldn’t you know? – it just happens that each of Ireland’s four Major champions picked up at least one of those titles in his time. Clarke won the East of Ireland championship at Co. Louth Golf Club in Baltray in 1989 and won the North of Ireland championship at Royal Portrush and the South of Ireland championship at Lahinch in 1990; Harrington won the West of Ireland championship at Rosses Point in 1994; McDowell won the South of Ireland over the old course at Lahinch in 2000; and McIlroy won back-to-back West of Ireland championships at Rosses Point in 2005 and 2006.


There’s more. If you want to follow in the footsteps of these Major champions, then


try Westport Golf Club – with the spectacular setting of Croagh Patrick as a backdrop – where McIlroy became the youngest ever winner of the Irish Close Championship in 2005. He was 15 at the time. And, the following year, McIlroy became the first player since the legendary amateur Joe Carr to retain the Irish title when he won over the imposing links that is The European Club at Brittas Bay in Co. Wicklow, a modern links that looks as if it has been around for more than a century. But it’s not just about links golf. For Ireland’s Major champions won titles on parkland courses too. McDowell – the man known to one and all as G-Mac – won back-to-back Irish Youths’ championships at Cork Golf Club, popularly known as Little Island and designed by the legendary Dr Alister MacKenzie, in 1999 and then at Malone Golf Club in the suburbs of Belfast in 2000. For his part, McIlroy also won an Irish Youths’ championship. He didn’t have to travel too far: McIlroy won his title at Clandeboye Golf Club in Bangor in north Co Down, a wonderful course set in woodland with a heathland feel. Links. Parkland. Heathland. The variety of courses in Ireland – where everyone can follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s Major champions – is beyond compare.


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