Dramatic day seals No 1 for Harrington

The year-long, multimillion pound European season came down to a mere £23,600 and one measly shot here yesterday, as Padraig Harrington inched past Paul Casey to win his first Order of Merit title. It was an afternoon overloaded with drama, when the calculator must often have seemed the most important tool in the protagonists' bags.

And the critics say this curtain-calling event does not mean anything. They should try asking Harrington, who, on becoming the third Irish winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy, was as proud as any have ever been. Or, if that does not convince them, then what about Casey, the Englishman who sat alone in the locker-room with his head in his hands? His emotions had not so much just been on a roller-coaster as put through a blender.

Indeed, as the holes ticked down in that enthralling last hour, it was forgivable to overlook the fact that India's Jeev Milkha Singh was on his way to winning the Volvo Masters - his most prestigious success by far. In the end, Singh was quite a cosy victor, too, having the comfort of two putts from four feet for a two-under total which secured the £667,000 first prize. But it was what had come to pass on that 18th green, 15 minutes before, that brought the biggest gasp.

By then, the maths were excruciatingly simple. If Sergio Garcia missed his 25-footer for par, then Harrington would move up into a three-way tie for joint second and would finish the 2006 campaign as European No 1. If Garcia holed it, then Casey would hang on. When the putt veered right, Harrington, watching on the television in the players' lounge with his family, started the celebrations, having at last made up for his two Order of Merit runner-up placings in 2001 and 2002.

He had arrived at Valderrama almost £150,000 behind Casey and, on a course he has never truly warmed to, did not overtly fancy his chances. "The bookies had Paul at 1-7 at the start of the week, and that was probably about right,'' he admitted. "But my focus was excellent all week. I never got down on myself, and I never chucked it in.''

He must have been tempted to, though, when he began his final round with two bogeys. Harrington had been four behind the lead when he teed off, but was now six adrift and, with Casey cruising in with a 69 to finish at four-over, Harrington realised that third would not be good enough. In fact, a four-way tie for second would not have been good enough either, although the Dubliner was not aware of that and neither could he have dwelt on it as he had so much ground to make up. But make it up he did, fearlessly, with birdies at the fourth, 11th, 14th and 16th and, when he arrived at the 17th tee, he was in the top four with silverware in sight.

But then he found the water in front of the green; but somehow managed to get up and down for par. Then he found the trees on the 18th, but somehow managed to play a lob-wedge from deep rough to three feet for par. And then, as Garcia started to wobble, and since Luke Donald was the only other player able to make it to the clubhouse at one-under, it suddenly began to dawn that those two miraculous saves were to be the clinchers.

"I'm so proud to be here,'' Harrington said. "When I started off 10 years ago, I would have been happy just to be a journeyman. You know, this is the 30th time I've come second in my career, and I've always said that sometimes second is a good result. This one has been more joyous than the rest, that's for sure.''

For Casey, the disappointment will indeed hurt, especially as he will inevitably come to feel that it all boiled down to a dodgy bowl of pasta. Understandably, he was too upset to talk after yesterday's cruel climax, although on Sunday he had pondered aloud how he might feel if denied at the last. "What would be frustrating would be the bug I picked up here before my first round,'' he said. "It stopped me from ever really being a force in the tournament and competing for the Order of Merit the way I would have wanted.''

Even then, Casey suspected that, with such proven performers as Garcia between Harrington and his required target, he would scrape through. Alas, the Spaniard's final-hole bogey was the costliest he has ever taken. From Casey's perspective, that is. For Harrington, it was priceless.

How they finished

Leading final places on the European Tour Order of Merit:

1 Padraig Harrington (Ire) £1,667,618

2 Paul Casey (Eng) £1,644,002

3 David Howell (Eng) £1,554,959

4 Robert Karlsson (Swe) £1,369,911

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
music

News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album