Graeme McDowell began his year with a Top-10 finish for just the third time in 13 seasons as Jimmy Walker claimed his third win from his last eight starts with a nervy victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
As Pádraig Harrington signed off with a 72 and finished nine behind Walker on two under in a share of 27th — no doubt regretting those six dropped shots in a three-hole stretch at Monterey Peninsula on Saturday — McDowell posted an impressive 67 to finish tied for seventh on six under.
The Rathmore man surged 32 places up the leaderboard thanks to a seven-birdie round that required just 26 putts and boosted his Ryder Cup World Points account to boot.
Having flirted briefly with the cut mark on Saturday, he saved the best for last as he covered Pebble Beach's back nine in 34 and then came home in an impressive 33 thanks to a generally clinical performance on the greens.
A missed four footer at the 11th saw him drop an early shot but there were few errors after that as the world No 15 showed some welcome early season form before his next appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play in less than a fortnight.
Three birdies in a row from the 12th — he holed from seven feet, nine feet and 14 feet — followed by a hole-out from 15 feet from the fringe of the 16th, catapulted him into the higher echelons of the leaderboard.
Not even a bogey at the 18th, where he missed the fairway and then failed to get up and down after putting his third in the front bunker, could stop his momentum for long.
After picking up a shot at the par-five second, he drained an 18 footer for birdie at the third and got up and down from 43 yards for another birdie at the par-five sixth to get to five under for the day.
Even after airmailing the par-three seventh, he managed to save par from nine feet and if he can show that kind of form with the blade in Tucson, he will be an opponent to fear.
As for Harrington, the Dubliner was again far from his very best inside 100 yards but apart from his lack of success with 15 footers, he generally holed out well and pulled off several of his trademark par saves around the greens.
To put his performance in context, he made just one birdie fewer than eventual winner Walker but had seven bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple compared to just six bogeys all week by the champion.
In fact, five of Walker's bogeys came in the final round, where he went out in one under to lead by six shots but then went on the defensive.
Four bogeys and a birdie left him just one clear playing the last and he ended up having to hole a nasty five footer for his par five, a closing 74 and a one-stroke win over Dustin Johnson (66) and Jim Renner (67) on 11 under.
"It's drama, man," 35-year old Texan Walker said at the finish. "It was too much for me."
There wasn't much too drama in Harrington's round with the longest putt he holed a solitary 10 footer in a 29-putt round.
Like McDowell, he started on the back nine and was forced to make a sensational par save at the short 12th, where he hit a gloriously soft cut up shot to two feet from the rough left of the green.
He then three-putted the 13th from 40 feet, knocking his first putt nearly five feet past before missing the return.
Bunkered off the tee at the par-five 14th, he left himself 102 yards to the pin for his third but over shot the green, came up 11 feet short with a difficult chip from below the surface and bogeyed again
Little went right for him all day.
At the 15th, he hit a nice wedge over the pin but was unlucky that it failed to spin even a fraction, leaving him a treacherous 15 footer from above the hole that failed to break in time.
At the 16th, he missed the green with his approach but got another bad break when his ball hit a greenside microphone and ricocheted even further right of the green.
Short sided, he still managed to save par from eight feet and then pulled off a similar recovery at the 17th, where he splashed out to five and a half feet from the trap left of the green.
Two superb strikes to the 543-yard 18th set up a 15 foot eagle chance. But he didn't give the left to right putt enough speed, missed low and had to settle for birdie and an outward nine of one over par 37.
He again hit the green in two at the 502 yard second and two putted for birdie, but handed that shot straight back at the next when he bunkered a 129 yard approach and barely made the green with his sand shot.
He was smiling again a hole later, where he hit a 72 yard pitch to 10 feet and confidently drained the birdie putt. But he missed the green with a wedge at the par-five sixth and had to get up and down from around the green at both the eighth and ninth to post his 72.
Having failed to win, Harrington will now miss the WGC-Accenture Match Play for the second time in three-years.
He has yet to qualify for the Masters or the US Open but still has time to earn the PGA Tour win he almost certainly needs.
It was still a good week for Harrington in the Pro-Am as he and his 13-handicap partner JP McManus finished tied for 11th.
It was even better for Dermot Desmond and Rafael Cabrera Bello, who were joint third behind Renner and restaurant tycoon John Harkey Jnr.