Harrington wins Shot of Month

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington got an early birthday present when he won the European Tour Shot of the Month Award for July.

And he's hoping to celebrate his 36th birthday in style today by reviving his flagging FedEx Cup hopes at the €5.12 million Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

Open champion Harrington will tee it up in the second of four play-off events ranked 23rd in the standings and determined to close the gap on leader Steve Stricker.

But he will almost certainly have to win if he is to edge past fourth ranked Tiger Woods, who is making his debut in the play-offs after deciding to skip last week's Barclays Classic in New York.

Harrington comes into the event, which ends on Monday, a massive 10,109 points behind Stricker and 5,149 points adrift of Woods.

And with just 9,000 points on offer for the winner this week and 5,400 for second place, Harrington knows he has his work cut out to keep his hopes alive.

Woods is the favourite to lift the title in Boston, where he will tee it up in a dream three-ball with Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.

The world No 1 arrived refreshed in Boston after a two-week break and possessing an impressive record in the event.

While he was 40th two years ago, Woods edged out Singh to take the title last year and also finish tied second in 2004 and seventh in 2003.

As for his birthday, Harrington will have to wait to open his 36th birthday presents until he gets back to Dublin on September 17 - despite the fact that his wife Caroline, son Patrick, mother Breda and brother Columb are all in Boston.

Caroline said: "I didn't expect to be here this week. I was going to go home after the Barclays but he asked me to stay on. So all his presents are waiting for him at home. He'll have to wait until after the FedEx Cup to see what he's getting."

The Dubliner at least had the satisfaction of knowing that his 47-yard wonder pitch at Carnoustie's 18th was voted Shot of the Month for July - making him a candidate for Shot of the Year.

Harrington had made two visits to the Barry Burn on the 72nd hole and knew he had to get up and down to have any chance of forcing a possible play-off.

And he did just that - skimming his effort to just four feet under massive pressure and then holing the putt before going on to win the Claret Jug in a play-off.

Harrington beat Sergio Garcia over four holes at Carnoustie and the Spaniard also had to settle for second place in the Shot of the Month contest with Harrington's approach to the first play-off hole earning third place.