Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Harrington wins Deutsche Bank in playoff with Bjorn

AP , ALVESLOHE, GERMANY

Padraig Harrington beat fellow Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the Deutsche Bank-SAP, an event where defending champion Tiger Woods' putting took him out of contention.

The Irishman took his seventh career title by dropping in a 2m putt for par in pouring rain, just minutes after his clutch 4m on the final shot of regulation forced the playoff.

Both players finished regulation at 19-under-par 269, with Harrington shooting a 68 and the Dane a 63.

"I was satisfied, maybe, more than jubilant," Harrington said. "I walked away thinking to myself, I've proved it to myself."

The Irishman, who passed Ernie Els as Europe's top money-earner, had a reputation for being unable to close out a tournament. He has 19 seconds, including last week's Benson & Hedges.

Tiger Woods ended up nine strokes back, tied for 29th, with a final day 4-under 68 and 10-under 278 after a frustrating week in which the putts failed to drop for the world's top golfer.

Woods said he played well in his return from a month break following a tie for 15th at the Masters. But it was his worst finish since another tied 29th at the 2001 PGA Championship, excluding a Accenture match play event.

"I only had three bogeys the entire week," he said. "I hit good putts but they just didn't go in. Overall I'm pleased with the way I played."

The 31-year-old Harrington took home 450,000 euros (US$520,000), winning for the fourth time since last winter.

Woods wasn't close to the leaderboard all week in his attempt to complete a hattrick at the 2.7 million euros (US$3.10 million) event -- winning it for the third straight time.

Bjorn dropped a 4m putt for birdie on the 13th, sending him into a tie with Harrington and South African Retief Goosen. The 2001 US Open champion finished a stroke back alone in third.

Harrington, who topped the leaderboard all four rounds, had a chance to win it in regulation. His teammate from the 2002 Ryder Cup team that beat the Americans was already in the clubhouse as the Irishman scrambled to make par for his final four holes.

Bjorn ran off nine birdies in his 63, coming out of the pack to catch Harrington, who held a two-stroke lead overnight. The Dane has struggled this year, missing the cut at last week's Benson & Hedges after a career that includes being runner-up at the 2000 British Open.

"I've often finished second to Bjorn," Harrington said. "I probably wanted it more. After leading last week and leading all this week, it would have been rough not to win either."

Woods began with two birdies, then cooled off and added just two more. He had already written off his chances at a 51st title after a third round 70 left him nine strokes back. Woods said his game was ready for the US Open, which starts June 12. He partially blamed his putting troubles on the ragged greens infected by a fungus called Fusarium, not rust from his layoff.

"It's nothing to do with the break I took," he said. "If you can't make any putts, you can't get any momentum. If you look at the greens they are not the smoothest in the world -- that has a lot to do with it."

Woods began his final round in pouring rain, but appeared he might make some kind of run and get hot for the first time after starting off with two fine birdies.

A nine iron approach shot on the first left him 70cm from the cup, while his drive on the short par-3 second rolled until he had an attempt under 1m.

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