Golf: Langer hits right note and revels in Irish enthusiasm: Daly sings praises of Mount Juliet

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The Independent Online
BERNHARD LANGER, pressing all the right buttons, told Ireland what it wanted to hear following his victory in the Murphy's Irish Open at Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny on Sunday. 'I've always said they should hold the Ryder Cup in Ireland,' Langer announced to a sea of nodding heads. 'I don't know of any event in Europe that gets crowds like this.'

The German is right about the enthusiasm that engulfs the Irish Open wherever it happens to be held. Mount Juliet is a good two- hour drive from Dublin but it did not stop people in their tens of thousands from attending the event. They were clearly warming up for the World Cup. Paul McGinley, who missed the cut, got a ticket for the Ireland-Netherlands match from David Leadbetter and flew to Florida.

Langer was a popular and acclaimed winner - he previously won the championship at Royal Dublin in 1984 and Portmarnock in 1987 - but what really set the turnstiles in motion was the performance of John Daly. Starting the fourth round seven strokes off the lead Daly blasted his way over the 7,143-yards course in a record- equalling 65 to finish at 12-under par for the tournament. Only Langer, courtesy of a birdie at the 16th, stymied the American's charge. The two were paired together in the third round and that was when Daly lost his momentum, falling back with a 73.

It is possible that he also lost his concentration for Langer is by no means the ideal running mate for Daly. The German is slow and methodical, while nobody is faster than Daly. Langer, who is gradually modifying his swing under Leadbetter, dropped only one stroke in the last 36 holes.

Daly played Romeo to Mount Juliet because he found Jack Nicklaus's design suited his game perfectly. 'That's the most drives I've hit on a course all year,' he said. 'I would love to come back, especially if the tournament was on the same course. I felt at home.' The venue for next year's Irish Open has not been finalised although Mount Juliet is the favourite.

Yesterday the John Daly show rolled on to Gleneagles where tomorrow he will make his debut in the Bell's Scottish Open. The King's course is considerably shorter than Mount Juliet and there are a number of par fours that Daly could have for breakfast.

Langer and Seve Ballesteros returned home while Nick Faldo travelled to Turnberry, the venue for the Open Championship next week, to play the course for two days. Ballesteros declined an invitation to play in the Scottish Open, arguing that Gleneagles would not provide a suitable preparation for the Open.

Faldo, who was going for a fourth successive victory in the Irish Open, finished tamely with a 73 to drop from joint second to joint eighth. 'I didn't play well all day,' he said. 'I wasn't comfortable at address and I struggled with my posture.' This can mean only one thing: yet more fine tuning with the man he describes as Lead.

Ernie Els, who also finished equal eighth, may spend more time playing in America than Europe next year. Ken Schofield, executive director of the European Tour, got to work on Els in Ireland. 'I'm keeping my options open,' the South African said. 'Europe is a nice tour, a relaxing tour.' Els, in fact, was having a discussion with Schofield while he should have been attending the pro-am prize giving. He was fined pounds 250.

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