Jamie Donaldson’s pursuit of his maiden European Tour title started in excellent fashion as he held a one-shot lead after the first nine holes during the final round of The Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
The Welshman, playing in his 255th European Tour event, collected three shots on the first four holes to move himself back ahead of Mikael Lundberg, who had lit up the leaderboard with a dazzling 29 on the front nine.
Lundberg’s surge meant Donaldson’s overnight lead was eradicated by the time he teed off. But the 36 year old showed no signs of nerves in his bid to break his title duck.
Donaldson, the only player in the field to score under 70 in each of the first three rounds, maintained his consistent level with birdies at the third, fourth and fifth before posting a slew of pars.
Lundberg was unable to make it five birdies in a row at the 11th and he had to wait until the 15th to move back level with Donaldson.
Playing from the top of a hill, the Swede’s second shot nearly dropped in as it spun back before hitting the flag. However, he tapped in the routine birdie, his eighth of the round to add to an eagle on the second.
But he handed the initiative back to Donaldson when he steered a four-footer for par left on the 16th.
While Lundberg’s front nine exploits were catching everyone’s eye, Ross Fisher joined him on eight under with three birdies on the back nine.
But he found sand at the 15th and 17th, taking two shots to leave the hazard on the latter, to give the two front-runners some breathing space.
Paul Waring stormed to 13 under before landing himself in some thick rough en route to a seven on the par five ninth.