Ilonen hangs on for Irish Open title
County Cork, Republic of Ireland (SportsNetwork.com) - Mikko Ilonen carded a 1-under 70 on Sunday to hang on for a 1-shot victory at the Irish Open.
Ilonen finished the wire-to-wire win at 13-under-par 271. It was his fourth career title on the European Tour.
"I made sure that I paced myself well and I'm not too quick with things and keep my head up no matter what happens, and I kept on doing the same thing all the time, tried to hit the fairway," Ilonen said. "I hit a lot of greens today and kept okay pace with my putting."
Edoardo Molinari shot a 4-under 67 during his final round on the Deerpark Course at Fota Island Resort to finish alone in second place at 12-under 272, while Kristoffer Broberg (69), Matthew Baldwin (69) and Danny Willett (71) shared third at minus-11.
Graeme McDowell (71) and Magnus A. Carlsson (69) tied for sixth at 10-under 274.
With their finishes at this event, Molinari, Baldwin and Willett qualified for the British Open. The top three players, who were not already exempt, earned a spot in the third major of the season.
Ilonen had already earned a spot in the British Open, so Baldwin and Willett took the last two remaining spots over Broberg due to their world rankings.
Ilonen entered the final round with a 1-stroke lead over Willett and quickly added to that advantage with a birdie at the second.
Willett then tripped to a bogey at the third to fall to 10-under and hand Ilonen a 3-stroke advantage.
Willett bounced right back with a birdie at the fourth, but Ilonen answered with a birdie at the fourth to reclaim his 3-stroke lead.
Willett would be met in second place by Carlsson, McDowell and Bourdy before the Englishman birdied the ninth to move to 12-under and back within two of the lead.
As Ilonen and Willet traded pars over the next seven holes, Molinari was making his way up the leaderboard.
Molinari had opened his round with a pair of pars before tripping to a bogey at the third.
He would not drop another shot for the remainder of the day, however, and bounced back with consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh. The Italian would later close his round with gains at the 13th, 16th and 18th to meet Willett at 12-under.
Willett then failed to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th to fall to minus-11 and leave Molinari alone in second place.
Ilonen found the trees to the right of the fairway off the tee at the last, but he was able to punch out of the trouble and eventually 2-putted for a bogey to close out the win.
"I looked back on the 18th green and I couldn't believe how many people there were. It's nice to see - it was a very humble moment," Ilonen admitted.
NOTES: Ilonen was making his 300th career start on the European Tour. It was also his first wire-to-wire win ... Last year's winner Paul Casey tripped to a 2-over 73 in the final round and finished tied for 33rd at 4-under 280 ... The tour heads to Germany next week for the BMW International Open, where Ernie Els won last year.
06/22 12:58:22 ET