There’s a plaque in the fairway on the par-5 16th hole at Ireland’s famed K Club, in County Kildare, that commemorates a 3-wood Rory McIlroy hit to about 40 feet for his second shot during the final round of his 2016 Irish Open victory. Seven years later, and only about 10 paces from that plaque, the result was wildly different. The Northern Irishman found the water, twice, and racked up a triple-bogey 8 that ended his hopes of chasing down eventual winner, Vincent Norrman. Somehow, though, the finish to the 2023 Irish Open was just as entertaining.

In a weather-interrupted final round, Norrman came from the clouds with a 65 that launched him from six behind the lead beginning the final round to a second DP World Tour victory this season. He finished at 14 under par (274) and one shot ahead of Germany’s Hurly Long. Min Woo Lee, who was near the lead after three birdies in his first five holes, finished tied seventh with a 70 elevating him to 11 under.

Playing in the final group, McIlroy was tied for the lead at 13 under when he arrived at the par-4 seventh. There, he put the first of four balls in the water for the round. It was an approach from 158 yards from the middle of the fairway and McIlroy made double bogey. The world No.2 found water again, this time a 136-yard approach that he pulled just left of the green at the 11th.

Still, when he sat in the fairway at the 16th, McIlroy was three shots behind clubhouse leader Norrman with three to play. Two par 5s among that trio. Not out of the question for a four-time major winner. With 267 yards to the narrow green, McIlroy flared a fairway wood into the creek. Then, after dropping in the fairway closer to the green, McIlroy fanned his fourth shot into the water. He airmailed the green for his sixth shot and, from the bunker, made 8. 

A birdie at the par-5 18th salvaged a nine-under score and a tie for 16th for McIlroy.

Norrman, who won the PGA Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship this year, couldn’t believe the chaos of the final round at the K Club. The former Florida State Seminole had held off a chasing pack that included McIlroy, Long, and a group who tied third that included 2019 Open Championship winner and beloved Irishman Shane Lowry, as well as DP World Tour stars, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, Grant Forrest and Thriston Lawrence. Fox was runner-up at the Irish Open in 2018 and 2022.

“I’m just as starstruck as some of those fans out here seeing those guys, and to be competing against them is so cool. To beat them is even cooler,” 25-year-old Norrman said. “It’s a world-class event, and it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in golf I think.”

The victory came as Norrman’s girlfriend, LPGA Tour pro Frida Kinhult, finished T-13 at the Kroger Queen City Championship in Cincinnati.

Lowry wowed the crowds with a near albatross at the par-5 fourth. He fired a 224-yard approach that almost holed out and settled to an inch. “I hit almost a perfect 4-iron… and that got me going,” he said.

It got the crowds going, too, who were hoping Lowry could repeat his 2009 victory at the event he won as an amateur. Lowry navigated the round after that eagle in two under for a 68 and a 12-under total.

“It’s hard, but there’s so many positives to take away,” Lowry said. “Irish Opens are tournaments that are generally a struggle in the past and I felt like I was great out there all week this week. It’s probably one of the best tournaments I’ve played this year. The Irish Open is one of the greatest events in the world, but I’m obviously biased.”

Lowry, McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton are now off to Italy to rendezvous with the entire European team for a practice round Monday at Ryder Cup host course, Rome’s Marco Simone Country Club. The team will then head to England Tuesday for the DP World Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA at Wentworth. There, Lowry will defend the BMW title he claimed last year.

“I’m going back to defend at Wentworth next week and we’ve got the Ryder Cup in a few weeks,” Lowry said. “It’s a very exciting few weeks, and [this T-3] is a great way to start my few weeks over here. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

Meanwhile, Lee’s fellow Australian Jason Scrivener tied for 54th.