Monstrous putt lifts Harrington to world No 8

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The Independent Online

Sixty-five feet, seven inches. That is not the length of the rope that Peter O'Malley and Phil Golding were consider throwing over their beams after seeing their chance of playing in next month's Open Championship disappear in the storms that stopped them getting back from Paris in time for yesterday's qualifiers, but the length of the extraordinary putt that has at last put a smile back on Padraig Harrington's face.

Sixty-five feet, seven inches. That is not the length of the rope that Peter O'Malley and Phil Golding were consider throwing over their beams after seeing their chance of playing in next month's Open Championship disappear in the storms that stopped them getting back from Paris in time for yesterday's qualifiers, but the length of the extraordinary putt that has at last put a smile back on Padraig Harrington's face.

After pegging back the runaway leader Jim Furyk at the Barclays Classic in New York late on Sunday, Harrington stood over a binocular-needing putt for eagle on the last green knowing that a birdie would take his Ryder Cup counterpart into a sudden death play-off.

But the 33-year-old had an even quicker death planned all of his very own with that monster of a hole-finder that spiralled his world ranking up to No 8 and sent the Dubliner into this week's European Open near his home city a supremely confident man.

"I was trying to two-putt, but once it rolled over the tier I had my hand in the air," he said. "I had not experienced that before. And it was very nice."

There were a million reasons why - dollars, mainly - although his second PGA Tour title in a year that has been blighted by his father's continuing battle with cancer made it all the nicer.

"Dad's thrilled," he said. "Two days after my last win [the Honda Classic in March] we found out that the disease had come back. I'm sure he's glad he hung around this long. He was given a couple of weeks back in March."

Which put Golding and O'Malley's problems into some sort of perspective, as it did Annika Sorenstam's "failure" to win the Grand Slam after Birdie Kim won the US Women's Open in Colorado, with the indomitable Swede back in a tie for 23rd.

With 120 due to be fighting it out for the 14 St Andrews spots on offer, the organisers of yesterday's 36-hole event at Sunningdale put the tee-times back two hours after the weather that wreaked havoc at last week's French Open threw so many of their competitors' travel plans into disarray. But this still was not long enough for the Englishman and Australian.

"So much for the glamorous life of a tour pro," said Golding, trapped at Charles De Gaulle Airport . "It's obviously disappointing - Michael Campbell came through qualifying to win the US Open two weeks ago, so you never know."

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