Mikko Ilonen completes Irish Open victory with ease
Last Sunday Martin Kaymer won the US Open wire-to-wire and this week Mikko Ilonen did the same at the Irish Open.
Royal Liverpool was the scene of Ilonen’s Amateur Championship success in 2000 and he also posted a top-20 finish at the venue six years later in the Open itself.
Mikko Ilonen maintained his composure at Fota Island on Sunday as the Finn secured a wire-to-wire success in the Irish Open.
Ilonen had kept the field at bay right from the start on Thursday and he did so once more in the final round as he finished on -13, even leaving room for a closing bogey en route to his fourth European Tour win.
The winner cited Martin Kaymer's wire-to-wire success at the US Open last week as the inspiration for his Irish success.
Edoardo Molinari was the man who eventually finished closest to Ilonen.
The Italian's final round 68 propelled him up the leaderboard and posted the clubhouse target for Ilonen.
Danny Willett and Graeme McDowell had begun the day as the closest pursuers but level-par final rounds ensured their challenges eventually faded.
Kristopher Broberg and Matthew Baldwin shared third spot alongside Willett, with McDowell posting his best ever Irish Open finish in tied 6th with Magnus Carlsson of Sweden.
There was to be no denying Ilonen, however, and the Finn got off to a perfect start, picking up birdies at the 2nd and 4th holes.
That left him three clear of the chasing pack and he remained two in front playing the final hole after a run of 13 straight pars.
With no challenge springing from the pack, Ilonen took an iron for safety on the 72nd holes and ironically posted his only bogey of the round to win by a single stroke.
Ilonen revealed afterwards that he had targeted 21-under par for the week but in reality he rarely looked like being caught.
This success is sure to have Ilonen in the limelight heading into next month's Open Championship at Hoylake.
Royal Liverpool was the scene of Ilonen's Amateur Championship success in 2000 and he also posted a top-20 finish at the venue six years later in the Open itself.
Ilonen admits he has already been dreaming of a return to the venue.
"I've been thinking about it a lot since I qualified off the Order of Merit last year. I am looking forward to it and hope I can keep this run going," he said following his Fota Island win.
With his course form in little doubt and now a win on Tour, the Finn will surely be making his way onto many people's watchlist for Hoylake.
McDowell meanwhile was left cursing an uncharacteristically poor performance with the putter.
One of the most reliable putters in the world, the Irishman felt it was "one of the worst putting weekends of my career when in contention."
The former US Open winner made just a solitary birdie in his final round and finished three back of Ilonen on ten-under par.
Former Irish Open winner Ross Fisher and Marcel Siem finished with a flourish, with joint best of the day rounds of 65.
Siem remains in consistent form and could soon add to his three European Tour victories.
The German was left rueing a second round 74 that derailed his bid for success in Ireland.
Siem will be on home soil this week at the BMW International Open in Munich.