Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (pictured) immediately turned his thoughts to clinching a first-ever Order Of Merit after firing a final round of 68 to secure the Dunhill Links Championship by five strokes at St Andrews yesterday. It was the tenth European Tour win of his career and his first anywhere this season.
Harrington’s victory moved him up to second place in this year’s standings for the top golfer on the European Tour, just under £150,000 behind leader Paul Casey. Casey finished in a tie for sixth place on the Old Course, meaning that Harrington’s cheque for £427,000 closes the gap considerably with two events remaining.
Welshman Bradley Dredge had started the final round one stroke ahead of Harrington but the key turning point came on the 11th hole, which saw a three shot swing in Harrington’s favour after he made birdie and Dredge carded a double bogey. Three other birdies in his final round meant that Harrington finished at -16, five clear of Dredge, England’s Anthony Wall and Edward Loar of the USA. Ernie Els made an eagle on the final hole to finish in fifth.
Harrington was winning the event for the second time, having also won it in 2002. He was ending a two-year drought on the European Tour – something that owes much to his decision to spend more time on the USPGA Tour, where he won two tournaments last year. He looked forward to battling with Casey for the Order Of Merit title, something that he has come close to on numerous occasions but has so far failed to win.
“The Order Of Merit is a huge deal,” the Irishman said after lifting the trophy yesterday.
“It has to be something you want on your CV and is only behind the Majors in terms of importance. I’ve been using it as my motivation to get out onto the course after the Ryder Cup.I hadn’t won in Europe for two years so it’s great to come back and win as you never want to go a year without winning.”
Harrington and fellow Irishman JP McManus clinched the team title in a tournament that saw pros and celebrities competing over three different Scottish courses – Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St Andrews.
DUNHILL LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP, ST ANDREWS – LEADING SCORES
GB&I unless stated
1 P Harrington, -16
T2 A Wall, B Dredge, E Loar (USA), -11
5 E Els (RSA), -10
CURRENT ORDER OF MERIT STANDINGS
GB&I unless stated
1. P Casey, £1,633,151
2. P Harrington, £1,485,250
3. D Howell, £1,468,513
4. R Karlsson (Swe), £1,331,364
5. E Els (RSA), £1,163,365