Patient Harrington beats defensive Tiger Woods

Patient Padraig Harrington took advantage of a defensive performance by Tiger Woods to snatch a memorable play-off victory in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan.

The 35-year-old Dubliner erased a three-shot deficit with three birdies in the last six holes in a homeward 31 before taking the €265,000 winner's cheque with an amazing birdie at the second play-off hole at Phoenix Country Club.

Harrington's 17th professional win consigned Woods to his just his second play-off defeat in 16 attempts and his first since Billy Mayfair denied him in the 1998 Nissan Open.

And he did it in style too, bravely holing from 10 feet for birdie at the first extra hole before producing an incredibly daring birdie on the pair's second visit to the 560-yard, par five 18th.

Stymied behind a pine tree in the rough, Harrington threaded a rescue wood through a fork in the branches and while the ball hit the tree and shot up in the air, he got a good lie in the rough and knocked his approach to just two feet.

Woods then missed from 12 feet for birdie and Harrington tapped in to deny the American what would have been a hat-trick of victories in the event.

Harrington said: "Beating Tiger in a play-off is satisfying and adds to the prestige of the win but I've got to say I take more confidence out of reading the situation very well in the last round and applying myself to the situation very well. If it was anybody else and I would be just as happy to do it.

"The fact that I've beaten Tiger in a playoff makes me no different a golfer than when I came here this week. It may change what people think about me, but in my own eyes I'm the same golfer."

Tied with Woods on six under par entering the final round, Harrington found himself three shots adrift with six holes to play but remained patient and took advantage of some defensive play by Woods to etch out a memorable victory.

A birdie at the driveable 13th got him to within two strokes of Woods and they were level with two play after a two shot swing at the 16th, where Harrington birdied from 15 feet as Woods three-putted from 40 feet, missing a four footer for par.

Harrington added: "When Shingo (Katayama) made a double on the eighth to leave Tiger with a three shot lead, I could see that he went to pretty defensive mode from there and I could make up the three shots if he kept defending as he did right the way through.

“He laid up on two par fours. If he was behind he wouldn't have laid up. As I turned out I made birdies on them and he three putted one of them for a bogey.”

Harrington had a chance to go to the 18th with a one stroke lead but missed from ten feet for birdie at the par three 17th as Woods saved par with a brilliant up and down.

Both men birdied the 18th for rounds of 67 and shared the first play-off hole in birdie fours, with Harrington draining a ten footer that forced Woods to follow him in from seven feet.

But it was all over on their second visit to the closing hole thanks to Harrington's calculated gamble with his second shot.

Woods said: "I was struggling all day with my swing. It wasn't just my tee shots, it was everything. I had a two-shot lead with three to go and missed a short one there at 16.

"If I made that putt it forced Paddy (Harrington) to have to birdie one of the last two holes to get into a playoff. It was a poor putt. It probably cost me the tournament."

Japan's Keiichiro Fukabori crept under the radar to claim third on eight under after the day's best round of 64 had given him the clubhouse lead until Woods and Harrington birdied the last.

England's Justin Rose closed with a 66 to finish tied for fourth on six under with Katayama, who closed with a 68.