Padraig Harrington was heading for Augusta in the right frame of mind after warming up for his Masters debut by finally shaking off an unwanted record of near misses. The Dubliner's win at the SÃ£o Paulo 500 Years Open in Brazil on Sunday ended a sequence of nine runners-up finishes since his maiden victory in the Spanish Open during his rookie season four years ago.
Those second places included last week, when he was beaten in a play-off by Roger Chapman after looking likely to win the Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open, the first European Tour event ever staged in Brazil. But he made amends in the follow-up event by producing a closing three-under-par 68 for a 14-under total of 270, which left him two shots clear of the American, Gerry Norquist.
"I've had a lot of second places so this is tremendous," said Harrington, who made his Ryder Cup debut last autumn. "It's a strange game. I won on my 10th start on the European Tour in 1996. I led from the gun and nothing went wrong. Since then I've had to learn a lot about winning and losing."