Pádraig Harrington believes more glory days lie ahead despite losing a nerve-tingling back-nine battle with Italy’s Andrea Pavan for the D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague.
Three ahead with nine holes to go, the Dubliner (46) had to settle for the 33rd runner-up finish of his 23-year career when he came home in level par to the Italian's blistering five-under 31 to finish two shots behind on 20-under par.
"I don’t feel I have an issue playing against these younger guys, I feel I can certainly keep up with them, and I have some good things in my own game," Harrington said after fading on the back nine to card a 69 to Pavan's five-under 67 at Albatross Golf Resort.
"Even from a week like this, you learn more when you get in contention. I’m seeing things about my game that I can improve and work on.
"I’m in a nice place, I just have to keep doing the good stuff, and hopefully there’ll be more tournaments like this ahead."
Tied for the overnight lead with Pavan on 17-under, Harrington was seeking his 16th European Tour win, his 32nd worldwide and the perfect early present ahead of his 47th birthday on Friday.
But while he birdied the first, sixth and ninth to turn in three-under 33 and lead by three from the 29-year old, his recent lack of form caught up with him and Pavan streaked past him, rattling in five birdies, including three in his last five holes to claim his maiden European Tour title by two strokes on 22-under par.
“It was a good contest, no doubt about it,” said Harrington after his first top-10 finish for nearly 10 months. “I obviously don’t feel like I lost it, Andrea won it for sure.
"He played great coming home and holed the decisive putts. I get my fair share of wins, but it wasn’t my day today.
"To shoot 20 under par on any golf course, you’ve got to put some numbers together, so I’m happy with that, Andrea just finished really well.
"He played lovely golf all day, to be honest, and made those birdies. It’s a pity, but I’ll settle for this most weeks.
"I'll give myself plenty of chances to win, and I know it’s a numbers game, some weeks it will be my turn for the putts to drop and the right shots at the right time."
Pavan, whose wife Audra is expecting the birth of the couple’s second child, a baby girl, on Wednesday, was suitably chuffed.
"It’s amazing, it’s massive," he said. "I’ve won four times on the Challenge Tour, but it was a long time ago."
He birdied the par-five 10th and 12th to cut Harrington’s lead to one, and while the Irish veteran almost aced the 200-yard 13th and tapped in from a few inches to go two strokes ahead with five holes to play, the Italian refused to bow.
After making a five-footer for birdie at the 14th to cut the gap to one stroke, he drew level when Harrington began to leak oil and missed a five-foot par putt at the 15th to card his first bogey in 48 holes.
The Italian was merciless from there, draining a 30 footer from the fringe at the par-three 16th to go one ahead and a 12 footer for a brilliant three at the tough 17th after Harrington's 18-footer lost pace at the hole.
"Padraig has got so much experience, such a great player and he played lovely," added Pavan, who had two putts from three feet for the win at the 18th and after watching Harrington 12 footer lip out but needed just one.
"The putt on 16 was massive. It could have easily gone both ways, he was ahead of me most of the day, but after I got ahead, I stayed aggressive."
On the PGA Tour, Seamus Power's season came to an end despite carding an immaculate, four-under par 67 to finish on five-under-par in The Northern Trust in Jersey.
After only making the top 125 who qualified for the Playoffs by the skin of his teeth, he needed to finish solo 21st at worst to make the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings who progress to the second Playoff event but while he moved up and 11 place jump to 114th was not enough.
Nice to finish the season on a bogey free note but not quite enough to get to Boston.— Seamus Power (@Power4Seamus) August 26, 2018
Thank you @PingTour @PowerHRG @FootJoy @Titleist @TRAVISMATHEW for the incredible support for the season...happy and proud to be partnered with such great people and companies.
Power tied for 34th and picked up $45,500 to take his earnings for the season to $791,018 but the winner's cheque for $1,620,000 went to Bryson DeChambeau, who closed with a 69 to win his third PGA Tour title by four strokes from Tony Finau on 18-under par.
After narrowly missing out on one of the eight automatic spots on Jim Furyk's Ryder Cup team, DeChambeau's move to the top of the FedEx Cup standings set a clear message to the skipper with Finau's closing 68 giving his third runner-up finish on the season.
DeChambeau and Finau, who has nine top-10s and 16 top 25s from 25 starts this year, must now be considered favourites for two of the four wildcards.
The other two look likely to go to Tiger Woods, who had a bad week with the putter, finishing tied 40th on four-under after a 70 and 79th for strokes gained putting, and Phil Mickelson, who tied for 15th on nine-under after a 71.
Brooks Koepka tied for eighth on 11-under after a 69 but that wasn't enough to overtake Dustin Johnson (joint 11th after a 68), as world No 1. Johnson holds on to that spot by 0.09 average points.
On the Staysure Tour, Australian Peter Fowler closed with a three-under 69 to claim the Willow Senior Golf Classic by two shots from American Clark Dennis and Scot Gary Orr on 12-under par with Brendan McGovern the best of the Irish, tied for 35th on one-over after a 69.
In amateur golf, Lahinch beat Elm Park 4.5-0.5 at Knock on Saturday to win the ILGU Senior Cup for the first time in the club's 126-year history while Portmarnock beat Dun Laoghaire 3.5-1.5 to win the Leinster pennant in the AIG Senior Cup at Mount Juliet yesterday.
At the Boeing Classic in Seattle, Darren Clarke added a closing 66 to rounds of 68 and 76 to finish tied 24th on six-under on his PGA Tour Champions debut. Scores
Scot Parel closed with a nine-under 63 to win the tournament by three strokes from Kevin Sutherland (71) on 18-under par with Miguel Angel Jiménez (67) and Ken Tanigawa (73) tied for third another two shots further back.
Clarke picked up $20,528 for his biggest cheque anywhere since he was tied 30th in The Open at Royal Troon in 2016.