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Adrian Meronk kissed the trophy and admired the names that have won the Horizon Irish Open before him.
Meronk, clinging to a one-stroke overnight lead, played the final four holes in 4 under en route to shooting 66 at Mount Juliet Estate in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, and win his first title on the DP World Tour.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “This is what we practice for everyday and I’m so happy.”
Meronk trailed by one stroke with four holes to go but a late birdie barrage and an eagle lifted him to a 72-hole total of 20-under 268 and a three-stroke victory over Ryan Fox of New Zealand.
Meronk, a 29-year-old former top-ranked junior, became the first from Poland to earn status on the DP World Tour and had two previous runner-up finishes. Now he’s the first Polish golfer to notch a victory on the circuit.
Fox, who made 22 birdies for the week, closed with 64 to grab the clubhouse lead at 17-under 271. But Meronk, who played college golf at East Tennessee State, tied for the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt at 15, clenched his right fist as he took the lead with a 15-foot birdie at 16, and stretched the lead to three with a 25-foot eagle putt from the fringe at 17.
“Just a relief,” said the 6-foot-6 big man of his third straight one putt that propelled him to the winner’s circle to join the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Rory McIlroy with his name on the champion’s trophy.
Thriston Lawrence was alone in third place, a stroke behind Fox. Scotland’s David Law, American John Catlin and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti all earned spots in The 150th Open—via the Open Qualifying Series—for all finishing tied for fourth at 15 under.