Padraig Harrington fired a closing round of 65 to finish one shot clear of defending champion Andy Sullivan and win the Portugal Masters, his first European Tour title since 2008.

Padraig Harrington began the final round at Victoria Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura one behind Anders Hansen and Mikko Korhonen. He closed the gap with a birdie on the second hole but soon found himself adrift as Hansen, Korhonen and defending champ Andy Sullivan all made fast starts.

The turning point for Harrington came on the 11th when a poor approach saw him short-sided in a bunker. It looked as though the Irishman might struggle to save par, but he holed out from the sand to secure a surprise birdie. He followed up with another gain at the following hole to take a share of the lead.

The 45-year-old moved ahead on his own with a birdie at the 14th but Sullivan joined him atop the board again after birdieing the par-5 17th. Harrington made a birdie of his own at the penultimate hole and, at that stage, he knew a par at the last would give him his first European Tour title since the USPGA Championship of 2008.

His drive on the last was leaked into the rough on the right, and his second flew long and right of the green, striking the grandstand. He had a tough lie in the rough but played a superb chip to within five feet of the cup. He calmly rolled the putt home, punched the air and was able to celebrate the victory.

“It’s a big win. Portugal Masters is a big tournament. I’ve been coming here for ten years so I’ve always liked it down here. I’ve always liked coming down to Portugal,” he said. “There’s so many Irish people here. It always felt like a home away from home, so it’s really nice to win the tournament.”

On a packed leaderboard in Portugal, Sullivan finished alone in second with Korhonen and Hansen tied third. Four men shared fifth: Robert Rock, Paul Lawrie, David Lipsky and Chris Paisley.

3 Talking points from the Portugal Masters

1 – This was Padraig Harrington’s first European Tour victory since the 2008 USPGA Championship, although he has won other tournaments around the world since then, including last year’s Honda Classic. The victory may make Harrington reconsider his playing schedule for the rest of the season. He had planned to head Stateside, but he may now look towards the season-ending events on the European Tour.
“We’ll have a strong look at that,” he said. “It’s all about qualifying for The Masters for me. I’ll have to see what gives me the best chance of doing that.”

At home with Padraig Harrington video:

2 – Andy Sullivan put up a stout defence of his Portugal Masters title, finishing alone in second place. He fired a superb second round of 61 and, although he came up just shy, he could be proud of his performance. Cheered on by “Sulli’s Army,” his team of supporters, he gave it everything down the stretch, but the putts refused to drop.

3 – In the other battle being fought in Vilamoura, a number of players were attempting to secure a spot in the top 111 on the Race to Dubai standings, and thereby earn European Tour playing rights for 2017. Mikko Korhonen did that with some style while Jason Scrivener and Oliver Fisher also moved up into the qualifying places. Those dropping out of the top 111 were Craig Lee and Eddie Pepperell, who missed the cut, also Zander Lombard who didn’t play this week.

Portugal Masters
Victoria Clube de Golfe, Vilamoura, Portugal
Oct 20-23
Purse €2,000,000, par 71

1    Padraig Harrington (Ire) 66    63    67    65    261    €333,330
2    Andy Sullivan (Eng)    67    61    69    65    262    €222,220
T3    Anders Hansen (Den)    67    66    62    68    263    €112,600
T3    Mikko Korhonen (Fin)    64    67    64    68    263    €112,600
T5    Robert Rock (Eng)    67    66    67    64    264    €66,200
T5    David Lipsky (USA)    64    66    69    65    264    €66,200
T5    Chris Paisley (Eng)    65    67    65    67    264    €66,200
T5    Paul Lawrie (Sco)        66    66    65    67    264    €66,200
9    Nacho Elvira (Esp)    65    67    67    66    265    €44,800
T10    Oliver Fisher (Eng)    66    67    69    64    266    €38,400
T10    Benjamin Hebert (Fra)    70    66    66    64    266    €38,400

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage