From its modern-day inauguration in Woodbrook Golf Club, Co. Wicklow, right through to last year’s narrative at Royal County Down, the Irish Open has provided spectacular competition both for the world’s best golfers, and the local amateurs that comprise the field every summer.
The winners’ list reads like a who’s who of some of the finest and well-loved players to ever pick up a club. Spaniard Seve Ballesteros claimed three titles in the space of four years in the mid-1980s; his trademark charisma washing over the galleries with every appearance in Ireland. Ballesteros’ second win, in 1985, was a vintage year for the Irish Open, as Bernhard Langer’s sensational, course-record breaking 63 on the final day looked to have given the German the title. Ballesteros had other ideas, however, and birdied three of the last four holes at Royal Dublin to draw level on -10, before beating Langer at the second extra hole with an astonishing 40-foot birdie putt in front of tens of thousands of jubilant fans.
Recent years have ushered in success for the Irish golfers, as first Pádraig Harrington in 2007, and then amateur Shane Lowry in 2009, captured their home title. And what of 2016, Rory McIlroy will be more determined than ever to add his first Irish Open title to his Major titles. May 2016 at The K Club is set to once again etch its mark into the history books.