PGA National 2015: Padraig Harrington ends seven-year itch with victory

Dubliner finally claims Tour win with play-off triumph in Florida after Poulter finds water five times to spectacularly blow lead

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The Independent Online

Padraig Harrington captured his first PGA Tour title in seven years yesterday when he won the Honda Classic here in Florida by making a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation play, then beat 21-year-old rookie Daniel Berger on the second play-off hole.

Trust Harrington to emerge the winner of the craziest final round on the PGA Tour this season, which took two days to complete. Four of the five players who had a share of the lead hit shots into the water down the stretch. That included Harrington, who appeared to throw it away when he hit into the water on the 17th and made double bogey to fall one shot behind.

The 43-year-old Dubliner, a three-time major champion and resilient as ever, followed with the birdie for an even-par 70 to get into a play-off with Berger, the home-town novice who closed with two birdies for a 64. They finished at six-under 274.

Both missed birdie putts on the par-five 18th in the play-off. Then on the 17th hole, the roles were reversed. Harrington got his redemption, hitting his tee shot to three feet. Berger, whose seven-iron into eight feet in regulation play was key in getting into the play-off, followed Harrington with a shot into the water.

Berger took double bogey. Harrington missed from three feet, but it did not matter. He was a winner again on the PGA Tour for the first time since his second straight major at the 2008 US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. “Believe it or not, when I get in contention I can still hit the shots,” Harrington said.

“Hopefully this isn’t an isolated win,” he added. “I really do believe in myself. I think I’ve found that mental edge that I’ve been lacking the last number of years. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick with that going forward and be consistently contending because I know, if I am contending, I can win.”

The final hour of regulation play was calamitous at PGA National. Ian Poulter, who had a three-shot lead at the start of the rain-delayed final round, appeared to have recovered from hitting the water on consecutive holes at the end of Sunday. He had a two-shot lead until hitting one into the water on the 11th for double bogey to lose his lead and two in the water on the 14th for a triple bogey. In all, Poulter hit five balls in the water in his final round for a 75.

“The good is good enough to win. I know that,” Poulter said. “It’s just bitterly disappointing to put myself in the position I have, to play as well as I’ve played ... and a couple of loose shots has cost me this tournament.”

He added: “It’s a shame to hand tournaments away. I’ve handed one away this week.”

Patrick Reed, tied with Harrington at seven under, came up short on the par-three 15th and into the water for double bogey, and he never recovered. He bogeyed the next two holes and closed with a 73.

Paul Casey also had a share of the lead until a bogey on the 14th hole, and he never got it back. He missed a 20-foot birdie chance on the 18th that would have put him in the play-off and closed with a 68 to tie for third with Poulter and Russell Knox, who shot a 68.