Sudden-Death Triumphs for Harrington and Johnson

It took 25 years to end the drought but it was well worth the wait. If there was a choice homegrown winner for the Irish Open, it would always be Padraig Harrington and the Irishman overcame a late stumble to deliver the victory that the home fans wanted at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort.

Harrington parred the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off to beat Welshman Bradley Dredge and take the title, the 416,660-euro first prize and rise to third place on the European Tour’s Order of Merit.

The Irishman was four shots ahead after the first nine on Sunday but dropped shots on the way back and ended up with a 71. Dredge reeled him in with a course record-equalling 68 to join Harrington on five-under-par 283, four shots in front of the field.

He became the first Irishman in 25 years, the last being European Tour Director John O’Leary, to win the Irish Open. Harrington was quoted as saying:

“I felt the pressure. It was probably the most nervous I’ve been for many a tournament. 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.”

Harrington, last year’s European money list winner, also returns to the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings after his victory. In the Order of Merit, he trails Henrik Stenson and Retief Goosen.

There was also sudden-death drama on the US PGA Tour with Masters winner Zach Johnson proving his victory at Augusta in April was not a one-off flurry by winning the AT&T Classic in Duluth, Georgia.

Johnson beat Ryuji Imada in the first hole of sudden death for his second victory at TPC Sugarloaf in four years. Along with the Masters, all of the Iowa-born golfer’s tournament victories have come in Georgia.

He was quoted on the PGA Tour website as saying:

“I guess I need to find some property here. I spent seven weeks at home in the off-season. I’ve never spent that much time at home before. I put a lot of work in, and it is really paying off now.”

Johnson went into the final round three stokes adrift of Imada and Troy Matteson. He closed with a five-under-par 67 for a total of 15-under 273 to finish tied with Imada, who ended with 70. Matteson shot 73 in his last round to finish joint third with Matt Kuchar and Camilo Villegas on 276.

During the play-off, Johnson only needed to keep his cool after Imada found water with his second shot on the 18th. However, he went for it with a four-iron, saw the ball land safely on the green and then two-putted for a birdie and victory.

The win was worth $972,000 for Johnson, who also earned 4,500 FedEx Cup points. For Imada, it was a missed chance to become the first Japanese since Shigeki Maruyama in 2003 to win on the PGA Tour.

One Response to “Sudden-Death Triumphs for Harrington and Johnson”

  1. Ted Exley says:

    The Open Championship proved to be the most exciting final day for years and years. Several of the best players in the world had chances to lift the famous jug.

    Stricker, Els and Romero were superb. Rose was great and the final twosome were fantastic.

    What a pity for Sergio. The trophy should really be shared—6 months each ! I hope that these two Open events held at Carnoustie, surely the best golf course in the whole of the world, do not hold him back from reaching the pinnacle at some time in the near future.

    Alas, Tiger Woods did not play anywhere near his best last week, his putting letting him down, but he lives to fight again. Jacks record is looking safer as every year passes.

    Roll on the next big one….I wish that I lived in Scotland!

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