Irish Open 2015: Soren Kjeldsen refuses to be blown off course for two-shot lead

The Dane showed how to play a links course in blustery conditions

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The Independent Online

The good news at the Irish Open was the wind changed direction. The bad news was it still blew, so instead of going left to right along the coast the kite surfers of the Irish Sea went right to left.

It didn’t matter much to Ulsterman Graeme McDowell from which direction the hooley came, it still had a detrimental effect on his game, if not his scoring. There is no pleasing some people.

Despite the conditions,  McDowell posted his best round of the week, a two under par 69 to leave him three over for the championship and 10 adrift of Soren Kjeldsen’s lead. 

As the late starters went out in the early afternoon McDowell could be seen on the range reassembling his swing by increments. It was more to ease the mind than restore his biomechanics since he has to endure another 18 holes today.

Fear not G-Mac, you’ll be back on the resort courses of Florida in the blink of an eye, launching mid-irons over water and floating wedges to receptive greens. “Today was probably the worst I’ve played all week,” McDowell said. “Coming into the week the game was in nice shape technically. When you get to a golf course like this you are manufacturing shots all the time.

“I feel like I have reverted back to my bad habits when you play in conditions like this, trying to flight the ball low all the time. You are never hitting stock shots and I feel like the technique disintegrates as the week goes on. It’s tough to keep hitting good shots in these conditions.

“I left several shots out there today but hung in well and pace- putted well. I was a lot more solid on the greens. I made some adjustments this morning, and holed out better, which was the key to my score. Holed a lot more inside six feet.

“You can’t attack flags the same way in links golf. You are always trying to thread the ball back to the pin positions. The greens here are very flat, very subtle and tough to read. That’s why it is so tough to score.”

In the absence of Rory McIlroy, who took his leave at the halfway stage for the second week in succession, McDowell was the early focus of attention for the 19,000-plus crowd. The love shifted to Padraig Harrington in the afternoon, but there was none of the control and urgency that saw him share the lead after day one and grind to stay within one of the lead on day two. Out in 38, Harrington made four bogeys in his closing six holes to come home in 40 and fall out of contention at five over par. 

It could have been worse. Rickie Fowler, of whom much was made in the build-up to the event, justified his billing with an eagle at the 16th to reach two under par. Two holes later he would close on the same total as Harrington, after a quadruple bogey at the penultimate hole and a treble at the last. Well, it was “moving day”, and, like share prices, the movement can be up and down.

It was left to Kjeldsen to show the field how to play a links course in blustery conditions. The diminutive Dane invested in the traditional tools of straight hitting and neat putting.

With two to play he was four clear of the field on nine under par but then dropped a shot at each of the closing holes to come back to seven under. Nevertheless a 67 gave him a two-shot lead over Germany’s Max Kieffer and the Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.