Irish PGA Championship 2023

David Higgins made it a hat trick of Irish PGA Championship titles as he held on to claim the 113th Irish PGA Championship in Carne Golf Links after a marathon three days.

Despite a final hole triple bogey, Higgins moves level with Damien McGrane and Simon Thornton on three Irish PGA Championship titles with two of those coming in Belmullet (2021 & 2023) after rounds of 73, 70 and 73 gave him a level par total to win by one from Thornton (Spa) and three from Kilkenny’s Jimmy Bolger.

“It feels a bit weird at the moment, the last twenty minutes were a bit surreal I played lovely for three rounds and just made a mess of the wind off the tee and just missed it, pulled two balls straight left. lacked a bit of concentration. I’m in a bit of shock I’m absolutely delighted,” explained the Waterville man.

“It’s such a huge part of my family I’ve won it a few times now and I’m so happy for myself and my family and we will have some great celebrations. Eddie Hackett designed Carne and he was the original designer of Waterville so there are a lot of similarities I feel at home on the links!”

Higgins had to wait 25 hours between the end of his second round and the start of his final round due to a six hour play suspension on Friday, but by the time round two was finished on Saturday morning his co-lead stretched out to a three-shot solo lead and the only man to be under-par at -1.

After biblical conditions on Friday with a six-hour weather suspension the second round was completed before a 1.30pm shotgun start for the final round on Saturday.

“Today wasn’t so bad it was a nice links day yesterday was extremely difficult. I’m old enough to know that nothing is won until the final putt or whatever is hit. Today was about getting the win and having the best score and I did that even though I didn’t end up having the best score today but that was my mindset.”

Higgins had a sluggish start, dropping a shot on the par-5 1st before bogeying the short par-4 4th after almost losing his approach to the green.

But in true champions fashion, the 50-year-old managed to spread himself from the chasing pack once again with back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh to move three clear once more.

Higgins moved four clear with birdies on the tenth and thirteenth before Thornton saw a birdie effort stop a hair short of the hole on the 18th before he tapped in for the winning 8.

Thornton put on a late charge with birdies on 13 and 15 as he posted the low round of the day with a two-under 70 for a one-over total. Richard O’Donovan was fourth on plus five after a 75 while defending champion McGrane was a shot further back in fifth after a 71.

Despite a very good effort from Bolger in the penultimate group and Thornton in the final 3-ball, Higgins had given himself too much of a cushion coming down the last and he will enjoy the six hour drive back to Kerry.

“To win it once is a great achievement, to win it three times is just unbelievable I’m just so happy to be alongside Damien and Simon, over the moon. I’ll saviour every minute of the drive home the only thing is I will have to keep my eyes on the road I’ll be looking at it!”

Credit – Irish Golfer Magazine

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