Harrington wins Irish PGA

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington produced the goods when it mattered most to defeat Brendan McGovern with a par at the first play-off hole and take the Irish Professional championship for the fourth time.

But he made it hard for himself on an epic final day at The European Club, running up a triple bogey seven the par four 17th to go from two ahead to one behind the club professional from Headfort.

The Dubliner drove into rough, hacked his next shot into a bush and then took three to get down from the edge of the green to fall from six under to four under and one behind the 41-year-old from Lucan

However, the world No 10 rifled his approach to 12 feet at the difficult par-four final hole and canned the putt for a birdie and a final round of one over par 72 to McGovern’s 74 which left the pair tied on five under par.

Returning to the 18th for the play-off, McGovern pulled his tee shot into the bushes and was forced to take a penalty drop.

After missing the green to the right with his third, he pitched on in four before Harrington lagged his 45 footer to the hole side and the pair shook hands.

Delighted to go to Carnoustie with his fourth Irish PGA title under his belt, Harrington knows that he cannot afford to get complacent at any stage next week.

He said: “I made it hard, I always do. I just got a little complacent on 17. I got distracted on the tee and should have stood off it.

“Because I was two head I thought nothing was going wrong. When things weren’t going well for me, that was when I made my birdies today."

After pocketing €12,500, he added: "You can pocket $150,000 for finishing tenth sometimes. But it is not as good as finishing first. Competing is everything."

McGovern had played brilliantly all day, and was simply irresistible on the greens as he notched seven birdies and two bogeys in a best of the week 66 to Harrington's 70 as the third round was completed in the morning.

Having started the day two behind Harrington on three under, he found himself leading by two strokes on eight under with just one round to play.

Prophetically, he said: "I am trying to play my own game and I am under no illusions about this afternoon to be honest. If I play the way I know I can play, the course sets up well for me. But you never know. If I can back that round up, well and good."

The front nine was a roller-coaster, though with McGovern losing and then regaining a two stroke lead in the space of six holes before bogeys at the seventh and eighth left him tied with Harrington on five under with nine to play.

After turning in one over par, Harrington drove into sand at the 10th to fall one behind again before McGovern rolled in a 15 footer at the 12th to lead by two for the third time in the afternoon.

However, Harrington then reeled off three birdies on the spin, two putting the par five 13th from 45 feet and then knocking home putts of 12 and 25 feet at the 14th and 15th to ease one shot clear.

It looked all over at the next when McGovern pushed his drive and was forced to take a penalty drop from deep rough. But he saved a remarkable bogey from 10 feet to go two behind and then looked on as Harrington ran up that unexpected triple bogey at the 17th.