Padraig Harrington’s stunning five wood approach to the 17th hole on the final day of The 137th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale has been voted The European Tour Shot of the Year for 2008.
Harrington’s stupendous shot from 249 yards landed just three feet from the pin at the penultimate hole of the Championship and he converted the eagle putt to secure a four shot victory in a brilliant defence of the Claret Jug.
The 37 year old Dubliner, who was two strokes clear of the field at the time, closed the door on his playing partner, Greg Norman of Australia and England’s Ian Poulter, who was already in the clubhouse on 287.
Harrington finished with a round of 69 for a 72 hole total of 283.Harrington, who went on to win the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in August, later reflected on his thinking behind that precisely struck five wood which effectively sealed his second Major victory.
He said: “On the 17th, I hit my five wood off the tee and hit it really solid. It was good to hit the fairway. I had 220 yards to the front of the green and 249 yards to the pin. The five wood is my favourite club and I knew I could make birdie if I hit that club.
“I was anxious that Greg could make eagle going down there, and if I laid up and I made par, all of a sudden it was very close. I wasn't so much worried about the guy that was two holes ahead of me and finished (Ian Poulter). I was worried if I laid up and made par, I was giving Greg a great chance to get within one shot of me, and one shot is not comfortable in any shape or form going down the 18th.
“So I wanted to take it on although there was obviously trouble on the right and left. A low shot, I felt, was always going to be an advantage. So I used the down slope in my favour and the ball came out nice and low. Once I hit it, it was perfect. It's one of the few times I think I've ever heard my caddie say good shot to me before the ball is finished. Normally he waits until the ball has actually stopped before he says anything.
“Obviously he was comfortable with what we had taken, but it was a worrying shot. It was a real bonus to finish three feet away. I would have been quite happy with it on the green and take my chances with two putts. Once it was three feet away I made sure I holed it. You can’t have enough of a lead going down the 18th in a Major.”
Runner-up was Graeme McDowell’s seven iron at the third hole of a play-off with Jeev Milkha Singh which helped him claim the inaugural Ballantine’s Championship in Korea while Harrington also collected third place with his tee shot to eight feet for a birdie two at the penultimate hole of the US PGA Championship.
The European Tour Shot of the Month Award is presented to the Tour Member for the shot judged to be the most outstanding played during each calendar month on The European Tour International Schedule. The winning shots from each month are entered into The European Tour Shot of the Year Award.
The full list of monthly winners in 2008 were: South Africa’s Richard Sterne (January), New Zealand’s Mark Brown (February), the Northern Irish duo of Graeme McDowell (March) and Darren Clarke (April), England’s Richard Finch (May), Martin Kaymer of Germany (June), Padraig Harrington of Ireland (July and August), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño of Spain (September) and his compatriot Sergio Garcia (October).