Several minutes after rolling in a three-foot putt that gave him the championship in a playoff over Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie Golf Club, Harrington was still trying to reconcile the wild turn of events.
"I think it's going to take a long time for it to settle in," Harrington told reporters. "I stayed in the present so much this week, that that putt dropping just - it's going to take a long time for it to sink in.
"There were so many things going through my head. A huge amount of it was genuine shock and...I won the Open championship. I had a foot to watch it going in there and it was just amazing - incredible to see it drop."
Harrington rallied with a final round of 4-under-par 67 to finish regulation play at 7-under 277. However, he nearly let the tournament get away when he squandered a one-stroke lead with a double-bogey on the par-4 18th hole.
Reminiscent of Jean Van de Velde's meltdown on the same hole in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, Harrington hit two shots into Barry Burn. After that, all he could do was watch Garcia take his stab at winning it.
"I never left myself feel like I'd lost the Open championship as I sat watching," Harrington said. "I never, ever had it in my head that I'd lost.
"Now, if Sergio parred on the last and I did lose, I think I would have struggled to come back out and be a competitive golfer. It meant that much to me."
Garcia, who led the first three rounds of the tournament and began the day with a three-shot lead, couldn't take advantage of Harrington's miscue. Needing a par for his first major championship, Garcia failed to get up and down from a bunker, missing a 10-footer for par and setting up the four-hole playoff.
Harrington took control right away in the playoff with a birdie on the par-4 first hole, while Garcia made a bogey. He then made a par at Nos. 16 and 17 before sinking his bogey putt on No. 18 to become the first Irishman in 60 years to win the Claret Jug and take home the $1.5 million first-place check.
Garcia closed with a 2-over 73 as he came up short again in his third time playing in the final group in a major. He was 1-over in the playoff, just missing a 25-footer for birdie at the 18th on the final playoff hole.
"To tell you the truth, I don't feel like I did anything wrong," Garcia. "I really didn't miss a shot in the playoff. I hit unbelievable putts. They just didn't go in."
Andres Romero, who made a remarkable 10 birdies in the final round, also briefly owned the lead before making a double bogey at No. 12. He also made a bogey on the 18th to shoot 67 and finish third at 6-under 278.
Richard Green shot a sizzling final-round 64, joining Ernie Els in a fourth-place tie at 5-under 279. Hunter Mahan and Stewart Cink tied for sixth at 4-under 280, while former Open champion Ben Curtis, Mike Weir, K.J. Choi and Steve Stricker all tied for eighth at 3-under 281.
Tiger Woods never mounted a serious charge and settled for a 12th-place tie at 2-under 282. The two-time defending Open champion was attempting to become the first player to win three consecutive Open titles in more than 50 years.
Instead, the 2007 Open gave Harrington his first major victory, ending an eight-year drought in majors for European golfers. The last European to break through was Paul Lawrie, who rallied to win the 1999 Open at Carnoustie.
Harrington said he's determined not to stop with just one major.
"I need to try to focus on winning," said Harrington, who climbed to No. 6 in the world rankings with the victory. "My goal was always to win more than one major. If I ever crossed that threshold to win one, I wouldn't feel like that was the end of my road."
July 23, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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