Padraig Harrington defeated Tiger Woods in a thrilling play-off to take the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan. The pair began the day tied at the top and a head-to-head battle produced one of the most exciting finishes of 2006.
Woods looked comfortable early on after three birdies on the front nine gave him a three-shot lead. Harrington then took his opportunities and made three birdies on the home stretch. Tiger could offer no response and on 16 missed a three-footer which swung momentum. Both birdied the final hole to extend the drama into a sudden death play-off.
Another two birdies at the first play-off hole saw them head back up the 18th for a third time. After finding the rough off the tee Harrington bravely took on a small gap in the trees, but his ball caught a branch and left the Irishman with a tough pitch for his third. He played a great shot to a couple of feet, reminiscent of his pitch at Valderrama last month which earned him the Order of Merit. Woods was unable to convert his 12-foot birdie putt which left Harrington with a tap in to take the title.
The win caps off a superb year for the Order of Merit winner. This will be a particularly rewarding win over Tiger given his phenomenal record of wins when going into the final round with the lead, he has won 38 times and lost just 3. Tiger also has an impressive play-off record of 13 wins and 1 loss before this week.
Keiichiro Fukabori was in contention after a superb 64 left him as joint-leader on eight under until Harrington and Woods birdied 18. An excellent 65 by Ian Poulter meant a good week for him as he finished joint sixth, one place behind fellow Englishman Justin Rose who shot a 66 on the final day.