Harrington Defeats Bjorn in Playoff

By Sports NetworkMay 18, 2003, 4:00 pm
HAMBURG, Germany -- Padraig Harrington parred the first hole of a playoff Sunday to defeat Thomas Bjorn and capture the Deutsche Bank - SAP Open TPC of Europe. The victory is his seventh on the European Tour and second of the season.
 
Bjorn surged into the lead with a brilliant nine-under 63 on Sunday to enter the clubhouse in the lead at 19-under. He missed a short birdie at the last that would have padded his advantage but nevertheless all he could do was wait.
 
Harrington, trying to redeem himself from last week's final-round collapse at the International Open, put together a solid effort to remain in contention while several players went low. At the par-five 15th, Harrington reached the green in two and walked away with a birdie to join Bjorn atop the leaderboard.
 
At the 18th, Harrington hit his approach to the opposite side of the green. With rain starting to fall, he left his birdie try short with a difficult putt left for par. Harrington collected himself and drained the 10-foot putt to finish regulation alongside Bjorn at 19-under-par 269.
 
'Coming down 18 I didn't feel nervous but I can't say I hit the purest of shots,' said Harrington. 'You've got to expect that under pressure.'
 
The players returned to the 18th tee to start the extra session. Bjorn, playing in his first playoff on the European Tour, knocked his second shot in a greenside bunker giving the advantage to Harrington.
 
Bjorn hit out of the sand and sent his ball eight feet past the hole. Harrington left his putt within three feet of the cup and after Bjorn failed to save par, the Irishman sank the putt for the victory.
 
'It would have been a real dent on my confidence if I hadn't won,' said Harrington. 'I thought I had licked it at the end of last season but last week I wondered if I was back to my old situation and not converting. It's a big confidence to get over the finish line and it's nice to say you are on the right track.'
 
Harrington, who has let several tournaments slip from his grasp in the final round throughout his career, played well enough to maintain control. His par save on the final hole in regulation ultimately gave him the chance to take the lead in the Order of Merit race.
 
Harrington struggled out of the gate with a bogey at the first. He responded with a birdie at the third and ran home an 18-footer at the par-three fifth to reach 16-under.
 
He kept things going with a birdie at the sixth and added a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at minus-18. Harrington then parred the next five holes before the clutch birdie at the 15th in his round of 68.
 
'I think I was playing very well today and stuck to my guns,' said Harrington. 'I hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in.'
 
Bjorn started with a pair of birdies from the third. He added birdies at the seventh and eighth before sinking a 12-foot putt at the ninth to go out in 31.
 
The Dane made it four in a row with a birdie at the 10th and continued his fine play with a pair for birdies starting at the 13th. Bjorn then birdied the 17th to secure a spot in the playoff.
 
'I played really well all through the round and even left a couple out there,' said Bjorn. 'Maybe I left too much to do coming into the weekend.'
 
Retief Goosen was also in contention late and failed to convert on a long birdie putt at the last to miss the extra session at 18-under-par 270. Goosen collected six birdies for a round of 66 to finish alone in third.
 
Niclas Fasth was one shot further back at 17-under-par 271. Fasth was on fire early with two birdies and an eagle over his first three holes to surge into the lead.
 
The Swede rolled in a long birdie at the fifth and birdied the sixth to reach 17-under. Fasth could not continue the rapid pace down the stretch, however, with two birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way for a 66.
 
'I gave it a real effort but always felt I needed two or three more birdies,' said Fasth. 'I put a little bit extra into it and came up short, but it was still an encouraging week.'
 
The English duo of Paul Casey and Justin Rose finished alongside Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell in a tie for fifth at 16-under-par 272.
 
Darren Clarke, who struggled on the greens throughout the final round, was joined by Greg Owen and Paul Lawrie at 15-under-par 273.
 
Tiger Woods, who won this event the last two years, posted his best round of the tournament on Sunday. Woods hit a bunker shot to three feet for a birdie at the first and picked up another short birdie at the second.
 
The top player in the game hit his approach to 12 feet for a birdie at the 13th and birdied the par-five 17th for a round of 68.
 
'Overall, I'm very pleased with the way I played,' said Woods. 'I only had three bogeys the entire week so I didn't play bad, I played good. I just didn't get anything out of it on the greens.'
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.