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What Are The Best Irish Performances At The US Masters?

What Are The Best Irish Performances At The US Masters?
By Conor Neville Updated

Prior to 1998, Irish players made only sporadic appearances in the US Masters.

Legendary Irish amateur golfer Joe Carr was the first Irishman to compete in the Masters in 1967. He was invited by his illustrious friend, Mr. Bobby Jones, the elderly founder of the tournament and golfing demi-god.

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Carr played the tournament in both '67 and '68, making the cut both times and finishing 55th and 52nd.

Christy O'Connor Snr was invited over numerous times but always declined for financial reasons.

The leading Irish player of the 50s and 60s and easily one of the best players in Europe, 'Himself' only ever competed in one 'major' championship, the British Open.

The four majors did not then occupy the same hallowed, semi-sacred status within the golfing calendar. Travelling across the Atlantic to play in the USPGA Championship, for instance, was just not the done thing in the middle of the century.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2jw9jX9Qxw

His nephew, the late Christy O'Connor Jr was the second Irishman - and first Irish pro - to play in the tournament in 1977 but missed the cut. Likewise, Garth McGimpsey, the Bangor-born, British amateur champion in 1985, failed to make the cut in both '86 and '87.

After winning the European Order of Merit in 1989, Ronan Rafferty earned an invitation to Augusta in 1990, becoming the Irishman to make the cut since Joe Carr. He finished tied for 14th and was asked back the next year. He missed the cut in 1991.

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The following year, another Northerner, albeit a Yank-based one, would compete. In 1992, the year when perennial challenger Freddie Couples won his only Masters title, gobby future commentator David Feherty made the cut, finishing 52nd.

Pre-1998 Irish Masters players

Joe Carr (1967, 1968),  Christy O'Connor Jr. (1977), Garth McGimpsey (1986, 1987), Ronan Rafferty (1990, 1991), David Feherty (1992)

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Since 1998, when Darren Clarke was invited over, no Masters tournament has taken place without at least one Irishman in the field.

So far, there have been six top-10 finishes, shared between two players, McIlroy and Harrington.

McIlroy finished 4th in 2015, the highest ever finish for an Irish player, but was miles off the eventual winner, Jordan Spieth.

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In stroke terms, the closest an Irish player has come to winning was Padraig Harrington in 2007. in a high scoring year, he finished on +5, four shots behind champion Zach Johnson.

He was in the mix heading into the tight finale but suffered another disaster on his nightmare hole, the 15th. No Irish player has even been in a more commanding position than Rory McIlroy after 54 holes in 2011 but he ended

No Irish player has ever been in a more commanding position than Rory McIlroy after 54 holes in 2011 but his collapse was so complete he ended up missing the top-10.

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Irish Masters Top 10s

2015 - Rory McIlroy (4th)     -12   (6 shots behind winner Jordan Spieth)

2014 - Rory McIlroy (T8th)     E  (8 shots behind winner Bubba Watson)

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2012 - Padraig Harrington (T8th)    -4  (6 shots behind winner Bubba Watson)

2008 - Padraig Harrington  (T5th)   -2  (6 shots behind winner Trevor Immelman)

2007 - Padraig Harrington (T7th)   +5  (4 shots behind winner Zach Johnson)

2002 - Padraig Harrington (T5th)   -6  (6 shots behind winner Tiger Woods)

Meanwhile, here are two Irish players who've been around Augusta talking about how recent rule changes have had a profound affect on the game. Padraig Harrington attributes his decline in form to an obscure rule change.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IbU15uay4k

Read more: The 5 Most Annoying People You'll Meet On A Golf Course

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