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'Kjeldsen a double champion'

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Paul McGinley appeared at this week's Irish Open as both a player and as part of Sky Sports' pundit team. The Irishman looks back at Soren Kjeldsen's victory at Royal County Down... 

A play-off is always exciting, particularly a par-five like what they’ve played at the 18th with a big crowd around it and wind coming off the right hand side.

Eddie Pepperell was going in with the most momentum, as a round without a bogey was a fantastic round of golf. Bernd Wiesberger probably felt a little lucky to be in the play-off, having holed that big putt at 16 but not taking advantage of 17 and 18. Soren will have been disappointed with his three-putt at 17 after finding the middle of the fairway.

Kjeldsen had a two-shot lead going in to the last round, but had a difficult start to Sunday and a difficult end to Saturday. He battled away, having an opportunity and the tournament in his hands, but he didn’t take advantage in regular play.  What a second shot in the play-off, which was probably the shot that won it for him. He really had the tournament won and lost, then went out and won it again in the play-off, so he’s won it twice – maybe we can call him a double Irish Open champion!

I walked a few holes in the practice round out on my own on Tuesday, and Soren was out playing with Wiesberger in a two ball. Soren and I had a chat about this course not being about big hitting and that he had a chance in the tournament, with him saying how he wished there were more courses and more tournaments like this.

Like myself, he is a little guy that has been overpowered in the last few years, with so many tournaments and courses we play these days so advantageous to hit the ball 300 odd yards in the air. We don’t get to play a lot of testing courses like we have this week and Soren took full advantage.

Week to remember

It’s been a great venue and great test for the Irish Open. I think being a good wind player is an important thing when you come to Ireland, with a lot of the Irish Opens of late being played in very strong winds.

Rory has done a huge amount for this tournament and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. A lot of pressure and expectation will be on Rory to carry on with his own tournament, so hopefully it’ll continue in this successful platform that we’ve seen from the Rory foundation this year.

I’ve loved the week but I’m so disappointed not to have finished it. I’ve enjoyed the test it proved; it needed guile and the ability to drive the ball, hit iron shots and hole putts to do well. It’s one of my biggest disappointments ever having battled so hard for three days, but that’s what happens sometimes. I’ll hope to play again mostly during the summer.

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