With the Horizon Irish Open set to get underway in a few day’s time at the K Club, we’re counting down our top-10 from years gone by…..
4. Seve beats Langer in a playoff at Royal Dublin – 1985
The old adage that great players make a great tournament was arguably never better exemplified than at Royal Dublin in 1985 when the reigning Masters and defending Irish Open champion Bernhard Langer fell in a playoff to the reigning Open champion, Seve Ballesteros.
This was in the middle of the Carroll’s sponsorship years when, for 12 consecutive years, the Irish Open winner would be or would go on to be a major championship winner.
Christy O’Connor Jnr and Ronan Rafferty would both finish tied for eighth, Ian Woosnam and Paul Way were tied for third, but two clear were Langer and Ballesteros and if there wasn’t to be an Irish name engraved on the trophy, these were the two men that the galleries would’ve chosen to square off mano-a-mano.
The German was at his clinical best in the final round, shooting a final-round 63 to tie the swashbuckling Spaniard who closed with a 66 in glorious sunshine on Bull Island.
Inseparable through 72 holes, they’d both find the green on the first playoff hole – the 18th – and would require referee Tony Gray to step it out to determine who had to putt first. It was Langer, but only just, and uncharacteristically he’d leave his 36-footer a yard short.
Ballesteros, ever the man for a big moment, wouldn’t make the same mistake. His 35-footer was struck with perfect pace and the line to match and it found the middle of the cup, with the celebrations of the gallery only bettered by those of Seve himself. His visor was sent spiralling into the air and, channelling his inner Muhammad Ali, he boxed the air in jubilant celebration.
He’d go on to win his third and final Irish Open a year later but this was the pick of them.