Harrington coasts back to form for Ryder test

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The Independent Online

Bernhard Langer will lead a contented team of players on the plane to Detroit today with yet another member of the European Ryder Cup side celebrating a victory on the eve of the match against the Americans.

Bernhard Langer will lead a contented team of players on the plane to Detroit today with yet another member of the European Ryder Cup side celebrating a victory on the eve of the match against the Americans. Following Miguel Angel Jimenez and Luke Donald in the previous two weeks, Padraig Harrington completed the hat-trick by winning the Linde German Masters by three shots from Australian Nick O'Hern.

Harrington, the only player in the team in the top 10 of the world rankings, had not won so far this year, despite finishing second another four times. More than that, the Dubliner had come to Gut Larchenhof looking to rekindle his form. Frustrated by not playing as well on the course as he thought he was on the range, Harrington had missed the cut in Munich a fortnight ago.

Having consulted his coach, Bob Torrance, Harrington arrived with a new attitude and yesterday he hauled in Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, despite slipping six strokes behind after only two holes.

Harrington opened with a couple of bogeys in the windy conditions, while McDowell, birdied the first, but the 25-year-old former American college player, so composed in maintaining his lead on Saturday, could not repeat the previous day's form.

Still three ahead at the ninth, he found an awkward lie in a greenside bunker. Water awaited on the other side of the green and McDowell was soon experiencing every golfer's worst nightmare in that situation. He thinned his recovery over the green and had to take a penalty drop before getting up and down for a double-bogey.

Harrington had driven into the rough on the right, but played his approach to 15 feet and holed for a birdie. McDowell also found a bunker at the short 11th and could not get up and down before taking three from the edge of the 14th green to fall two behind.

Harrington all but sealed his ninth European Tour title, and the £340,000 first prize, by holing from nine feet for a birdie at the 15th, while McDowell's challenge sunk further when he found the water at the par-three 16th.

Paul Casey also had trouble with water after going in twice at the 17th for an eight. Not quite how he would have wanted to set off for his Ryder Cup debut but, as he was in second place at the time, there was nothing wrong with his game. Darren Clarke's bogey, double-bogey finish also had a get-me-on-the-plane feel about it.

Langer's clubs will be on the plane to Detroit today, but they won't come out of the bag all week. "It's going to be different for me, not playing," he said. "But that is OK. I made the decision 10 months ago and I am very happy with it."

The German has no intention of making his captaincy last longer than this week. "I am not going to do it again. Other guys should have the honour. We have a number of guys waiting to be Ryder Cup captains and it wouldn't be fair for me to occupy that job again."

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