An Irishman captured the European PGA Tour's 2007 Irish Open Sunday for the first time in 25 years.
Padraig Harrington survived a sudden-death playoff against Bradley Dredge of Wales to take home the title at the Irish Open at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort.
Harrington needed just one hole in the playoff: He made par to Dredge's bogey. Both players finished at 5-under-par for the tournament, four ahead of the rest of the field.
"I felt the pressure. It was probably the most nervous I've been for many a tournament," Harrington told Reuters. "I've always said that after the four Majors this is the next event I've wanted to win. The crowd was fantastic. Even when I saved for bogey they cheered and the applause definitely gave me a boost."
The win puts Harrington in third play on the European PGA Tour's Order of Merit; only Henrik Stenson and Retief Goosen are above him. the win also puts Harrington back into the world's top 10 rankings.
Harrington's Sunday started off slowly, with bogeys at the par-4 second and fifth. But Harrington rebounded, going birdie-birdie-eagle on the seventh, eighth and ninth.
But he slipped back to the field on his homestretch, with bogeys at the par-3 11th and 17th.
Meanwhile, Dredge was making a charge, with birdies on seven of his last 12 holes, making up a four-stroke deficit on the back nine to force a playoff.
"My long game wasn't great but I hit enough good iron shots close and putted well," said Dredge. "I had a chip in on 14th and knew I had to stay focused. I knew my short game was good enough to battle it out and hope he made a few bogeys as well. In the end it was just one of those things on the last.
"Before I went out I knew I had to shoot a good score and had a good run at the end of the front nine, kept my head down and played my own game. It is just frustrating to give it to him the way I did in the end."
Simon Wakefield of England drained a 30-foot birdie put on his last hole to move into sole possession of third place, at 1-under-par, the only other player to finish under par this week.
May 21, 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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