There was more than one winner at the European Tour?s final event of the season as Padraig Harrington and Jeev Milkha Singh took titles on Sunday.
The back nine at Valderrama again proved a fitting setting for the season decider of the European Tour as Padraig Harrington took the Order of Merit with a second place finish. Jeev Milkha Singh withstood pressure superbly on the final day to take the Volvo Masters by a shot.
The scene was set as Harrington, David Howell, Robert Karlson and Order of Merit leader Paul Casey all had a chance of taking the Order of Merit crown going into the final day. Although Casey had struggled all week a gutsy 69 on the final day meant that only second place or better would do for the three challengers. For a long time it seemed that Casey had done enough with a number of players – including Singh, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald – all under par and ahead of his rivals. However, the menacing back nine of Valderrama began to dig in its teeth and players began to fall away.
Harrington (pictured) made a birdie at 16 to move to two-under-par which gave him an opportunity playing the last two. Standing over his second on the breathtaking par-5 17th Harrington was right to assume that he more than likely needed to pick up shots. A poor strike found the water but he made a great up and down, which was followed by a miraculous par from the trees on the last. At this point Harrington was in third place, which meant Casey remained top of the Order of Merit.
David Howell had a birdie putt at 17 which would have tied him with Harrington, but it lipped out and ended his chances. Karlsson was one of many who faded away on Sunday afternoon as he struggled to a disappointing 75.
At this point Sergio Garcia was given a supporting role as two pars at 17 and 18 would leave him in second place on his own and Casey would take the Order of Merit. He managed a par at 17 but a poor iron shot from the middle of the 18th fairway found the bunker and he was unable to get up and down. This left a delighted Harrington tied for second place and the European Order of Merit Champion.
Harrington is renowned for finishing in second place in tournaments but this runner up spot was far sweeter than any before.
?When I made my 29th second place I thought my 30th was going to be a milestone. Well, sometimes it?s very good to finish second! This time is all adds up to the Order of Merit,? he said.
?This has been a big goal of mine down the years. When I started off years ago I would have been happy to be a journeyman, finishing 75th every year. So to have won the Order of Merit at last makes me very proud and hopefully I can keep going forward and can carry the flag of European Number One well for a year.?
Although he perhaps did not receive the coverage he deserved, Jeev Milkha Singh played brilliantly all week to take the Volvo Masters by one shot. Some had questioned whether Singh?s unorthodox swing would withstand the biggest pressure of his career and bogeys at the 12th and 13th intensified the situation. The Indian golfer from Chandigarth was solid in the final stages as his challengers fell away. Singh?s second shot into the 17th encapsulated his week, a towering 6 iron that landed 12 feet from the hole. He narrowly missed the eagle putt but the birdie gave him a comfortable cushion down the last. A delighted Singh took five down the last to claim the title on his debut appearance at Valderrama.
?This is the biggest victory of my career so far and is going to stay with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
“It means a lot to me. I think this is going to be big for Indian golf. I feel more sponsors will come out and more kids will try to make a career from the sport.?
Singh received ?666,660 for his victory and Harrington was presented with the Vardon Trophy.