Irish Open: Danny Willett can’t catch Ilonen but claims Open spot

Danny Willett during day four of the 2014 Irish Open at Fota Island Resort, County Cork, Ireland
Danny Willett during day four of the 2014 Irish Open at Fota Island Resort, County Cork, Ireland
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Mikko Ilonen proved to be too tough to crack for Sheffield’s Danny Willett as the Finn claimed his fourth European Tour title with a wire-to-wire victory in the Irish Open at Fota Island.

Ilonen carded a final round of 70 to finish 13 under par, one shot ahead of Italy’s Edoardo Molinari. Willett, fellow Englishman Matthew Baldwin and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg finished another shot back in third.

Ilonen established a new course record of 64 in the opening round and although that only lasted until Willett, aided by a hole-in-one, shot 63 on Saturday, the 34-year-old Finn a one-shot lead into the final round.

Birdies on the second and fourth took Ilonen three clear of the field until Willett carded his second birdie of the day on the ninth, but that was as close as anyone got until Ilonen dropped his only shot of the day on the last, ironically after hitting an iron off the tee for safety.

The tied-third finish for Willett meant he claimed a place at The Open championship at Royal Liverpool on July 17.

Sheffield teenager Matt Fitzpatrick, who was the only amateur to make the cut in the US Open last week, finished in a tie for 29th in his first tournament as a professional following a closing 68.