Padraig Harrington kept his nerve to finally give the Irish fans the winner they wanted in the European Tour?s Irish Open.
The Ryder Cup star started the final round with a comfortable three-shot lead but any notion that it was to be a gentle stroll to victory was dispelled at the 2nd, when a poor chip resulted in a bogey.
The Adare Manor track had been playing tough all week and Sunday was no different, with the constant wind, tight fairways and heavy rough causing all the players difficulty. In fact conditions were so challenging that just three players finished under par.
In a seesaw afternoon Harrington interspersed birdies and eagles with bogeys. However, the 35-year-old looked to have it sown up when he stood on the 14th tee with a three-shot lead over playing partner Bradley Dredge.
But it was not to be easy viewing for the Irish galleries as a mixture of superb play from Dredge ? highlighted by a chip-in birdie at the 14th ? and the odd mistake from Harrington, gradually reduced the gap. A final birdie from the Welshman at 17 coupled with a Harrington bogey meant that the pair came down the last tied for the lead. Two regulation pars pointed to a sudden-death play-off.
The crowds were not to be denied though and as Dredge could only bogey the first play-off hole a par was enough to secure the victory for Harrington. The Irishman had said early in the week that, outside of the Majors, a win in this tournament was one of his main career aims and there is little doubt that the pressure affected him during the final round. ?All the way through I was more nervous there than I had been in many tournaments and I had to work very hard to stay focused and stay calm,? he said. ?Only now is it starting to hit home.?
-5 Padraig Harrington (Ire)
-5 Bradley Dredge (Wal)
-1 Simon Wakefield (Eng)
(Harrington wins at first play-off hole)