From Brian Keogh in Tucson
Top gun Padraig Harrington dodged a bullet when he drained a 40 footer for eagle to beat Lee Westwood at the 19th in Tucson.
Before that the Dubliner was never up in his first round WGC Accenture Match Play clash with his Ryder Cup team mate.
But he dug deep to come back from two down after 11 holes to force extra time and then grab victory with that heroic late putt.
Harrington beamed: "I feel lucky to have got away with this one. Lee is a great player from tee to green. He kept going after the pins all day and hit a lot of good shots.
"I knew it was going to be very difficult. It was always going to be a very tough draw but I tried to convince myself that all matches are going to be tough. He played very well and hardly made a mistake really.
"He had a couple of up and downs near the end - 14th, 17th and the first play off hole - when it got down to the nitty gritty he had it."
Harrington had to hole a 12 footer to avoid going three down after 12 holes but used that as a wake up call.
A par at the 13th was good enough to claw his way back to one down and he then bravely drained a six footer at the par five 17th for birdie to go to the last all square.
He had a chance to win that hole as well but watched his 10 footer slip by the hole and allow Westwood to take up up the 19th,
Harrington explained: "It was tough match all day. I was never up. I had a great opportunity to win it on 18 and when I didn't hole that I didn't feel good about the play-off holes."
A super drive followed by a 242 yard hybrid club to 42 feet, put Harrington in pole postion with Westwood missing the green to the right with his approach.
Harrington added: " I hit two great shots down the first into the middle of the green. Lee had chipped up stone dead for birdie and I had a 40 footer but thankfully having played the hole already I knew the line and hit a really good putt.
"It looked like it was going in all the way and I had my hands up in the air before it went it. It probably would have gone four feet if it hadn't gone in, so I was happy to see it hit the back of the hole and drop."
The key to the match was the par four 12th, where Harrington's second spun off the green and he was forced to hole a 12 footer not to go three down.
He said: "That was the key. Sometimes playing a hole badly is the best thing you can do. I hit my drive right, played two cautiously with a long bunker shot and it rolled back off the green.
"I chipped to 12 feet and holing the putt to stay two down. If I had two putted for my par I probably wouldn't have felt as good for the last few holes."
The Dubliner will now face US Ryder Cup player Stewart Cink in today's second round following the American's 3 and 2 win ove rJeev Milkha Singh.
But he is not worried about tiredness being a factor after the exertion of contending for the Nissan Open in Los Angeles at the weekend.
He said: "Tiredness will not be a factor unless I am in the final on Sunday. I will be careful now for the rest of the day because I am so tired now.
"That was a real grind. My concentration wasn't good the first 12 holes but I really knuckled down for the last six. I feel liek I played 36 today not 18."
Harrington and Westwood halved the first in birdie fours with the Dubliner forced to hole a seven - footer for the half after Westwood had found the green in two and two-putted.
The Worksop man stole a march on Harrington at the second, holing a 40 footer from just off the front of the green to go one up.
But his advantage was short lived as he pulled his six approach at the 225-yard third and then duffed two successive pitch shots from the rough with Harrington safely lagging his birdie putt to the edge of the hole.
A Westwood birdie at the fourth, where he hit his 180 yard approach to just two feet, left Harrington trailing again.
But the European No 1 bounced back straight away on the par five fifth, as Westwood took six after dumping his approach in greenside sand.
The driveable seventh was halved in birdies but Westwood grabbed the initiative at the par three eighth, holing a massive 60 footer from the fringe to go ahead again.
At the 400 yard 11th, where Harrington's 130 yard approach bounded through the back of the green and eventually conceded to go two down.
But he saved himself from disaster at the 12th and went on to secure an hugely impressive victory with that late eagle.