Paul Casey (Getty Images)
Paul Casey returned to form in sensational style with a brilliant closing round in tough conditions at Carton House to win The Irish Open.
The Englishman, who has had problems with form and fitness since winning his last European Tour title two and a half years ago, finished with a five under par 67 in strong wind, heavy rain and finally sunshine to finish 14 under for the week.
That was three better than overnight leader Joost Luiten, who went round in 74, and England’s Robert Rock – whose 71 saw him finish as a runner-up for the second time in this event after he was beaten in a play-off
by Shane Lowry in 2009.
Casey started the day four behind Luiten and when he reeled off seven consecutive pars at the start of his round there was little indication of what was to come.
But five birdies in six holes followed to give him a three shot lead, which was reduced to one with bogeys at the 15th and 16th.
The 35 year old’s advantage looked precarious coming down the par five last, but he found the green in two and signed off in style with a spectacular 45 foot eagle putt for a 12th European Tour title.
“It’s incredibly sweet,” said Casey, who finished second to Thomas Björn the last time the event was staged at Carton House in 2006. “It’s been a while and when that putt went in half of it was relief and half of it was satisfaction
“What a grandstand finish - winning an Irish open is an absolute dream.
“I was feeling wet when it rained. It was a shaky start, I didn’t hit the ball particularly close going out but when the putts did start to go in I got on a bit of a roll.
“I love playing in Ireland, I always have. The Irish Open has great history
– just looking at Seve’s name on the trophy. We’ve had some interesting weather but they’ve turned out as Irish fans always do and I love playing in front of Irish crowds, I’m looking forward to coming back.”
had been seeking a second win in three events after winning in Austria earlier in June, but still had reason to be pleased with rounding off a month where he has finished 11th, first, tenth and now second.
“All in all, a good week,” he said. “Second place is always good, but if you go in the last round as the leader, you want to have more, but sometimes you can't.”
Rock was also pleased with his week’s work, having overcome some indifferent form of his own recently.
“It's as good as I've done in a while,” he said. “When you're that close, you want to win, but Paul played the better golf around the important part of the day where the rain came down. There were some shots I should have played better; things to work on.”
Spain's Pablo Larrazábal finished fourth after a closing 75, with former Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal a shot further back in a share of fifth.
Olazábal, 47, had moved into a share of the lead with four birdies in his first ten holes but bogeyed four of the last eight to card a 72.
Casey was ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking in
2009 but began the week 169th after a string of fitness problems, most notably in 2012 after suffering a broken collarbone while snowboarding.
His last European Tour victory came in Bahrain in January 2011 but he qualified for the recent US Open Championship with a round of 64 at Walton Heath and was inspired by seeing former Ryder Cup team-mate
Justin Rose win his first Major title at Merion.