(Reuters) - Former world number three Paul Casey mastered difficult conditions to hit a five-under par 67 to claim the Irish Open by three shots on Sunday, his first European Tour victory in over two years.
Casey, who has fought back from poor form and injury problems in recent times, started the final round at Carton House, County Kildare, four shots behind Dutch leader Joost Luiten.
The Englishman made his move on the eighth hole, hitting the first of five birdies in six holes in blustery and occasionally wet conditions, as Luiten, who won the Austrian Open earlier in the month, faltered with bogies on the fifth, 12th and 16th holes.
Casey, now with a world ranking of 169, began to struggle in the trying conditions, bogeying both the 15th and 16th holes to narrow his lead to just one shot, but an eagle on the par-five 18th after hitting the rough from the tee meant he could celebrate his first title since the Volvo Golf Champions in January 2011.
“It’s incredibly sweet,” Casey told the European Tour website (www.europeantour.com).
”It’s been a while and when that putt went in half of it was relief and half of it was satisfaction.
”What a grandstand finish - winning an Irish open is an absolute dream.
“It was a shaky start, I didn’t hit the ball particularly close going out but when the putts did start to go in I got on a bit of a roll.”
Luiten’s two-over round of 74 saw him finish on 11-under par, tied for second with England’s Robert Rock who shot a final round 71 to take the runners-up spot for the second time.
Spain’s two-time major winner Jose Maria Olazabal briefly held the lead during the final round but the 47-year-old, now ranked 425 and who captained the European Ryder Cup team to victory over the United States last year, faded to par 72 and a tie for fifth.
Reporting by Josh Reich, editing by Justin Palmer