Jon Rahm fires 62 to claim two-shot victory in Irish Open at Lahinch
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/07/19 6:03pm
Jon Rahm powered to his second Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title after a superb closing 62 earned him a two-shot victory at Lahinch.
Rahm, a runaway winner at Portstewart two years ago, trailed Robert Rock by five strokes overnight but emerged as a convincing champion ahead of Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger after carding eight birdies and an eagle to post a winning score of 16 under par.
Rock could not match the heights of his spectacular third-round 60 as he mixed two birdies with a pair of bogeys in a closing 70, although his consolation was earning one of the three places on offer for The Open along with Paul Waring and Wiesberger.
Rahm made smooth progress up the leaderboard when he made four birdies in six holes from the fifth and then holed a 25-foot putt for eagle at the 12th which gave him a share of the lead when Rafa Cabrera Bello, who was 15 under at the turn, began the back nine with two bogeys.
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Cabrera Bello hit back with a birdie at 12 after Rahm bogeyed the 13th, while Rock was grinding hard to stay in the hunt as he recovered from an early bogey at the third with birdies at the seventh and 13th.
But Rahm then took control of the tournament with three birdies in four holes just as his compatriot Cabrera Bello's challenge hit the buffers with dropped shots at 13 and 15, and Rock then bogeyed the 15th just as Rahm approached the par-five last.
The world No 11 gave a glimmer of hope for the chasing pack when he pulled his drive into the left rough, although he found the rear fringe of the green in three before racing an aggressive 20-foot birdie putt four feet beyond the cup.
But he held his nerve to nail the return to complete weekend rounds of 64 and 62, and his fourth European Tour victory was secured when Rock, Cabrera Bello and Eddie Pepperell were unable to find the birdies they required down the stretch.
Sullivan had earlier posted the clubhouse target on 14 under when he birdied four of the last seven holes to return a commendable 66, and his eventual runner-up finish represented his best result on the European Tour since 2016.
The Englishman had company in the clubhouse lead when a resurgent Wiesberger, winner of the Made In Denmark in May, made his sixth birdie of the final day at the last to cap a 66 which ensured he would be in the field for the final major of the year at Royal Portrush.
A deflated Rock missed out on a tie for second when his 10-foot putt for birdie at the last shaved the left edge, and he had to settle for a share of fourth with Pepperell and Cabrera Bello, who both fired 69s.
Cabrera Bello looked the man to beat when he followed a birdie at the first with two more at four and five, but the former Ryder Cup star's run of four bogeys in six holes after the turn left him too much to make up on Rahm.
Pepperell, playing his first event since the PGA Championship after taking six weeks off to have treatment on a back problem, bogeyed two of the first four holes but dug deep to birdie the sixth, 12th and final holes to sneak under the card for the day.
Waring snatched the third and final Open place on offer when he birdied four of the last six holes to card a 66 and finish on 12 under, one ahead of two-time major champion Martin Kaymer to leave the German requiring a big week in Scotland to avoid missing out on The 148th Open.