Yorkshire’s Simon Dyson will bid to become the first player for 15 years to successfully defend the Irish Open when the €2m event takes place at Royal Portrush Golf Club for the first time since 1947.
Successive rounds of 67 over the weekend at last year’s Irish Open earned the Malton and Norton player his sixth European Tour title, and he’s now set his sights on following in the illustrious footsteps of Colin Montgomerie, who took the coveted title in 1996 and 1997.
Twelve months ago, Dyson dropped just three shots over the four rounds at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in a display he labelled his “best of the year” and the 34-year-old is now hopeful those cherished memories will act as the catalyst for a successful title defence when the Irish Open returns to Royal Portrush from June 28-July 1. He said: “My main memories from last year were coming down the stretch on the final day, starting with my nine iron tee shot into the par-three 10th. That got everything rolling really. My four iron into the 11th to 12 feet was probably one of the best shots I hit all season, and the whole back nine was probably the best golf I played all year.
“The Irish Open is a tournament you want your name associated with, so I felt very lucky to add mine to the list of former champions. The crowds were absolutely fantastic – they were five deep on both sides of the fairway coming down the last hole, which made for a very special atmosphere. I’m lucky enough to have won a few times on The European Tour, but that final round was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
“I’ve never managed to defend a title before in my career, so the Irish Open wouldn’t be a bad place to start.”
The tournament will boast at least five recent Major winners after Keegan Bradley, the reigning USPGA Championship winner – and one of a new breed of American stars – confirmed he will be heading for Portrush.
The 25-year-old has never played a professional tournament in Europe, but has been lured by the magnificent links where he will compete among a stellar field. Bradley, who has high hopes of facing Europe in September by qualifying for the United States Ryder Cup team, entered global golf’s spotlight in 2011 when he won the USPGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in dramatic fashion. A triple bogey at the 15th left him five shots behind but he went on to defeat his compatriot Jason Dufner in a three-hole play-off.