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Irish trio falls flat in the Dunhill Cup

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Manley

Ireland fielded a three-man team in the Alfred Dunhill Cup, played on the Old Course at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. Sixteen nations were entered, then drawn into four groups for round-robin play. The winning groups advanced to the semifinals. The Irish trio of Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley finished a non-threatening third in their group, losing matches to Spain and Scotland. Their lone win came over China, whose golf program can only be described as fledgling.

Day 1 set the pattern that was to prevail throughout the competition. Clarke could be counted on to win his match, but his teammates weren’t able to emulate his performance. The Portrush man finished on even terms with Spain’s Santiago Luna after 18 holes. Clarke went 1-up on Luna when the Spaniard bogeyed the 17th hole. Clarke then dropped the ball for a par-4 on the 18th hole, but Luna pulled a birdie out of his sleeve to even the match. Four extra holes later, Clarke pulled ahead with a birdie for the win. Spain came out a winner, however, as Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez scored two-stroke victories over Harrington and McGinley, respectively.

Day 2 found Ireland pitted against the home team. There wouldn’t be any showdown between Clarke and Colin Montgomerie, however. No disrespect intended, but McGinley and Scotland’s Andrew Coltart played the sacrificial lambs. Coltart didn’t go down easily. In fact, he had a three-stroke advantage over his rival as they teed off at the par-4 17th hole. But as Clarke recorded a birdie, Coltart took a triple-bogey 7, giving Clarke a one-stroke edge. The Irishman went for the pin on 18, earning a birdie and the match, while the Scotsman settled for par.

McGinley hung tough against Montgomerie, playing him even over the first eight holes. McGinley had fallen three behind, however, by the time he teed off at 14, a par-5. A double-bogey 7, coupled with Monty’s birdie sealed the match. Montgomerie won by six strokes.

The rubber match was Harrington against Gary Orr. The Dubliner had a three-stroke advantage after just three holes. Three holes later, he’d squandered it and the duo was on even terms as they teed off at the 12th. Harrington suffered a double-bogey there to fall two behind, then lost two more on the 13th with a bogey, as Orr got a bird. Harrington got two of those back on 14, but a bogey-5 on 16 was key to the match. The Irishman gained a stroke on each of 17 and 18, but the math showed him 6-over to 5-over for Orr.

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Day 3 was a breeze against the Chinese team. Clarke was a two-stroke winner over Lian-Wei Zhang, McGinley won by four over Jun Cheng, and Harrington had a three-shot advantage on Xiang-Bing Wu. South Africa won the Cup by defeating Spain in the finals. Spain advanced with a victory over the United States, whose trio consisted of John Daly, Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods.

PGA tour

Richard Coughlan teed off in the Michelob Championship at the Kingsmill Golf Club’s River Course in Williamsburg, Va. needing to take some big strides up the money ladder. He did well to make the cut and ensure he’d earn a check, but all he took was a baby step. Coughlan started the tournament at number 160 and his earnings of $7,790 moved him up exactly one position to 159th.

Coughlan’s 36-hole score of even-par 142 (70-72) was right on the cut line. He moved up some 20 places with a third-round 70, then came in at 71 on Sunday to finish 1-under at 283, good for a 39th place tie. David Duval ran away with this tournament, signing his name to a score of 268.

Coughlan has two more chances to avoid Q-School, which will be held in mid-November in the Palm Springs, Cal. area. In order to do that, he will have to finish 125th or higher, which will necessitate a top-10 finish at either Las Vegas this week or Disney World in Orlando next week. Coughlan has $148,165 to his name, which is over $63,000 behind Mike Springer, currently 125th with $211,595.

As for Keith Nolan, he did nothing to bolster his confidence. Consecutive rounds of 77 left him nowhere near the 142 needed to continue play on the weekend.

Nike tour

John Kernohan is fighting his own battle to make next year’s PGA Tour. The top 15 money earners on this circuit move up to the big time in 1999, while the rest take their chances at Q-School. He made his task more difficult by opening the Inland Empire Open at the Moreno Valley Ranch Golf Club in Moreno Valley, Cal. with a 3-over 75. He exorcised his demons with consecutive rounds of 66 and 65, which actually moved him into contention on Sunday. But he could only post a 72 the final time around, leaving him tied for 12th at 10-under 278, which was 10 strokes off Charles Raulerson’s winning score.

Kernohan’s situation bears a resemblance to Coughlan’s. The $3,501 Kernohan earned moved him up one spot to 34th on the Nike money list. He now has $69,360 for 1998, but will need to win the next and final event, next week’s Nike Tour Championship, if he is to surpass Jay Williamson, currently 15th with $109,522.

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