Paddy Awakes as Open Champion

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Padraig Harrington woke after only two hours sleep on Monday so he could see the British Open claret jug by his bed.
'I went to bed at about 4 am and woke up at six wide awake,' he said. 'I woke my wife and said: 'I'm the Open champion. I can't believe I've done it.' She said: 'I can believe it, there's the trophy, now can you go back to sleep?''
The Irishman, who has finished at least tied for fifth five times in three different majors and who was tied for seventh at this year's Masters, finally got his hands on the sought-after trophy by beating Sergio Garcia in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie on Sunday.
Harrington thought his chance was gone after a double-bogey six on the 18th. But Garcia's par putt lipped out, and the Irishman holed a three-footer at the fourth extra hole to claim the title.
'I was just standing there, just thinking I was the Open champion,' said Harrington, who ended Europe's eight-year drought in majors since Paul Lawrie won at Carnoustie in 1999.
Now, he is confident that the Europeans, who consistently beat the Americans in the Ryder Cup team competition, will start collecting more of golf's biggest prizes on a regular basis.
'I definitely think we have banished the hang-up for the moment,' Harrington said. 'European golf is very strong. This may be the start and, if it is, I will be telling people I started it.'
Harrington wants to follow the example of Phil Mickelson, who won the Masters in 2004 after 46 majors without a victory before adding the PGA Championship in 2005 and the Masters again in 2006.
'I have always had it in my head that if I won one major I would want to win more,' Harrington said. 'I got that from observing the other guys who've won majors, like Mickelson, and you have to have goals to keep you moving forward. If your goal was to win one major then that would be it. I am definitely focused on winning more than one.'
Garcia, who was four strokes ahead of the field at one stage in Sunday's final round, is still waiting to win his first major after 36 attempts.
'He is probably the best ball striker in the game and he is still young,' Harrington said. 'I really felt for him. I know he is under incredible pressure to win a major, and he will. It will happen.
'The more he believes that the quicker it will happen. But the longer it takes the harder it gets. He could have left the field behind here and run away with it.'
Harrington said when he was walking to the 18th green having twice played shots into the water known as the Barry Burn, he thought back to Jean Van de Velde's triple bogey at the same stage in 1999. The Frenchman was three shots in front at the last hole, but ultimately lost to Lawrie in a playoff.
'One big part of me making six was that it wasn't seven,' Harrington said. 'I was counting it up in my head. It crossed my mind that Jean took seven to lose the Open and I was sliding down that slippery slope too.'
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

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    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.