The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Finland's Ilonen birdies 18th to keep lead in Irish Open, by 1 over England's Willett

  • Print

CORK, Ireland - Mikko Ilonen of Finland birdied the last hole to stay on top of the Irish Open leaderboard after the third round on Saturday.

Ilonen, who has led from the outset, carded a 2-under-par 69 to move to a 12-under total at Fota Island.

The leader by two shots overnight, Ilonen will take a one-shot lead into the final round over Danny Willett of England, who eclipsed Ilonen's own course record by a shot with an 8-under 63 that also included a hole-in-one at the seventh.

One shot further back on 10 under was crowd favourite Graeme McDowell, who birdied two of his closing three holes in a score of 69. The Northern Irishman was not only targeting a first victory this year but also a maiden Irish Open victory.

"It's been fun to come here this week after the pressures of last week's U.S. Open and just let off some steam and relax, and enjoy my golf again, and also enjoy the odd pint of Guinness in the evenings," McDowell said.

"I will now try and give the crowds what they want tomorrow, and that's an Irish winner, but then there is a lot of names up on the leaderboard who will have issues with that.

"Winning the Irish Open is well up my leaderboard as far as wish lists of golf tournaments I would like to win, and to win would do many things like kick start my season and boost my Ryder Cup chances."

He noted an Irish winner would also cap a good week for Irish golf, with Royal Portrush added to the British Open rotation, and Rory McIlroy committing to representing Ireland at the 2016 Olympics.

Ilonen confessed he wore an emerald-colored shirt to try and win over the large Irish crowds.

The Finn could have easily finished two clear when his attempted eagle chip shot at 18 lipped out, leaving a three-footer for his birdie.

"I decided to wear a green shirt today, and the fans were really pleased, but then I knew my course record wouldn't last long and I called that," Ilonen said.

"But I feel really comfortable out there, and really pleased to birdie 18, and get back the lead."

Willett recorded his second hole-in-one of the year, after one at the China Open.

"It was a perfect number, wind out of the left with an 8-iron, kind of saying go in and not really quite sure, but it slam-dunked in the hole," Willett said after his second 63 of the year.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who are the real Bombers?

View Results

Ads by Google