Harrington reflects on Major merit

Padraig Harrington kissed the Order of Merit title goodbye but reflected on a magical double Major winning season at Valderrama.

The Dubliner finished 10 shots behind winner Soren Kjeldsen in the final edition of the Volvo Masters but was still beaming as Robert Karlsson became the first Swedish winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy.

Tied for 13th on two over after a closing 68, Harrington said: “In fairness to Robert he has played very well and very consistently all year.  He really deserves to win it. I would like to have done better the first day or any day but the game wasn’t quite there this week.

“Overall I can’t be disappointed. In a week’s time or a month’s time or in a year’s time, my season is going to be remembered for the two majors I won during the summer. So I am not too worried about it.”

Harrington resumed his weather delayed third round eight shots behind leaders Kjeldsen and Sergio Garcia on three over par.

But his challenge for the first or second place finish he needed to overhaul Karlsson at the top of the Order of Merit ended when he double bogeyed the 16th en route to a level par 71.

“The 16th was the killer,” Harrington said. “I wanted to go out and make some birdies this morning. I had chances on the 13th and 14th but the 16th was a slack hole. I hit it in the bunker, came out to 10 feet and three-putted. These things happen.”

As Kjeldsen closed with a 71 to win by two shots on eight-under par from Anthony Wall and Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell grabbed eighth place on one under after a superb 67.

McDowell finished the season ranked a career best fifth in the Order of Merit and wants to give his 2009 season the best possible start when the Race to Dubai begins in this week’s HSBC Champions in Shangai.

He said: “Sixth in the Order of Merit was my best ever. I at least wanted to equal that. I’m straight on a flight to China tonight. Obviously we are looking forward to the January December season in 2010, when it’ll be nice to sign off at the end of the season and look forward to a bit of Christmas dinner.”

Darren Clarke's title challenge faded with a 73 that relegated him to 11th place. But he still  did enough to secure his place in next year’s US Open thanks to his 13th place finish in the Order of Merit.

After a mixed week for the Irish contingent, Rory McIlroy and Peter Lawrie shared 39th place after rounds of 73 and 72 with Paul McGinley in 47th place on 16 over.

A closing 70 boosted McGInley's confidence and he is now looking forward to the Hong Kong Open in three weeks before teaming up with Graeme McDowell in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup at the end of the month.

Damien McGrane had a quadruple bogey nine at the 17th in a final round 79 that left him in 49th place on 17 over par.

But he still did enough to finish a career-high 30th in the Order of Merit and grab the final exempt spot for next year’s Open Championship at Turnberry, where he will be joined by Harrington, McDowell, Clarke and McGinley.