Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Harrington wins British Open

NO BLARNEY The Irishman became the first from the Republic of Ireland to win the tournament and the first European to win a major since Paul Lawrie

AFP , CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND

Padraig Harrington won the British Open on Sunday, defeating Sergio Garcia in a four-hole playoff as Carnoustie again offered up a high-drama finish in the closing stretch.

Garcia had come agonizingly close to winning his first major when his 3.3m putt for the trophy lipped out on the 72nd and last hole.

But it was Harrington who took charge of the ensuing playoff, grabbing what proved to be a decisive two-stroke lead at the first with a birdie to Garcia's bogey.

The 35-year-old Irishman was in no mood to let his advantage slip and after both men parred the next two holes, he once again came to the 18th and last with a two-stroke advantage.

Harrington played it safe, laying up in two and forcing Garcia to go for a birdie, which he narrowly failed to achieve.

The Irishman then calmly sunk a 1m putt to clinch the biggest win of his career.

"It's a lot to take in," an emotional Harrington said.

"I think if I had lost it would have been very hard to take, but I just stayed positive and convinced myself that with a playoff I would do the business," he said.

The 27-year-old Garcia said it was a case of Harrington winning the Open rather than him losing it.

"It's tough because I don't think I did anything wrong," he said.

"I really didn't miss a shot in the playoff and hit unbelievable putts but they just wouldn't go in," he said. "I guess I just have to move on; it just wasn't meant to happen."

Harrington is the first European to win a major since Paul Lawrie, who triumphed in similarly dramatic playoff circumstances the last time the Open was held at Carnoustie in 1999.

He is also the first Irishman to win the Open in 60 years -- since Ulster's Fred Daly at Hoylake -- and the first ever from the Republic of Ireland.

Garcia's long wait for a first win in a major goes on after he led the field by three strokes going in to the final day.

Harrington started the day tied for third, six strokes adrift of the Spaniard, but three birdies on the front nine put him in contention as Garcia struggled. An eagle at the 14th gave Harrington the lead.

Playing two groups behind, Garcia bounced back to level with back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th, making it a two-horse race going into Carnoustie's devilishly tough closing quartet of holes.

Harrington took a one shot lead into the 18th but looked to have blown his chances as he twice plunged his ball into the Barry Burn that winds down the 18th hole and across the front of the green for a double bogey six.

Minutes later, Garcia, needing a par at the last to win his first major, sent his approach into a bunker and then watched in agony as his putt missed.

Both finished the 72 holes with seven-under totals of 277, Garcia closing with a 73 to Harrington's 67.

Third place a further shot back went to unheralded Andres Romero of Argentina, who had an eagle, 10 birdies and two double bogeys in a remarkable round of 67.

Ernie Els (69) and Richard Green of Australia (64) shared fourth place at five-under.

Tiger Woods' hopes of staging an unlikely comeback from eight behind the lead were quickly dashed.

He grabbed early birdies at the third and fourth but bogeys at the eighth and 11th -- where he took two shots to get out of a rain-soaked bunker -- put paid to his chances of becoming just the second man in 125 years to win three straight Opens.

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