Harrington Tops Sergio in Open Playoff

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Padraig Harrington finally learned the lesson of Carnoustie, surviving a calamitous finish in regulation and a tense putt for bogey on the final hole of a playoff to win the British Open on Sunday.
 
In a nail-biter of a final round that stirred memories of Jean Van de Velde's collapse eight years ago, Harrington lost a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole by hitting into the Barry Burn -- not once, but twice -- on his way to double bogey.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington holds aloft the claret jug following his dramatic playoff win over Sergio Garcia. (Getty Images)
It looked like a sure loss, but not on this crazy course.
 
Given a one-shot lead, Sergio Garcia gave it right back when he couldn't make par from a bunker on the last hole.
 
Harrington staked himself to a two-shot lead in the four-hole playoff. Instead of the bravado Van de Velde showed in 1999, the Irishman played it safe off the 18th tee in the playoff with an iron off the tee and laying up short of Barry Burn.
 
As the engraver began stenciling the Irishman's name into the claret jug, Garcia made a gutsy play by smoking a 6-iron from 203 yards out of the rough to birdie range. His 25-foot putt skimmed the edge of the cup, leaving Harrington a 3-footer for the win.
 
'It's going to take a long time for it to sink in,' Harrington said, the first Irishman to win the British Open in 60 years. 'I know it was only a short putt, but the emotions of it ... I couldn't believe it as it was rolling in from right in the middle of the hole, and I'm thinking, 'The Open champion.' A huge amount of it was genuine shock.'
 
Blame that on Carnoustie.
 
Garcia was devastated, blowing a three-shot lead going into the final round only to be handed a gift he couldn't take. He blasted out to 10 feet from the bunker on the 18th, and still doesn't know how the ball stayed out of the cup. It dipped slightly and spun away, forcing the third British Open playoff in the last six years.
 
'To tell you the truth, I don't feel like I did anything wrong,' said Garcia, who closed with a 73 and was 1 over in the playoff. 'I really didn't miss a shot in the playoff. I hit unbelievable putts. They just didn't go in.'
 
Harrington, who closed with a 4-under 67 to make up a six-shot deficit, played the four playoff holes in even par, seizing control with a 7-iron into 8 feet for birdie on the first hole as Garcia made bogey from a bunker.
 
As it all wrapped up, a rainbow stretched over the course by the North Sea, capping another magical day on perhaps the toughest links in golf.
 
Like the last Open at Carnoustie, there was chaos in the end.
 
Only this time, it involved more than one player.
 
Van de Velde self-destructed on his own in 1999, blowing a three-shot lead on the final hole by hitting one shot off a tiny rail in the grandstand, another into the burn, another in the bunker.
 
Eight years later, the bad luck belonged to Andres Romero of Argentina, who looked like another unlikely champion at Carnoustie until his 2-iron from the rough on the 17th hole ricocheted off the stone wall of Barry Burn and across the 18th fairway, out-of-bounds.
 
The bizarre bounce went to Harrington, whose tee shot on the 18th hole hopped along a bridge over the burn until it went between two rails and into the winding stream. He also chunked his next shot into the burn, then made a clutch putt from 5 feet for double bogey.
 
That left only bad timing for Garcia.
 
This just wasn't his day.
 
It was his third time to play in the final group of a major, this time with Tiger Woods out of the picture early. But the 27-year-old Spaniard couldn't buy a putt, and he couldn't get a break.
 
Two shots down with two holes to go in the playoff, and with Harrington in trouble right of the par-3 16th green, Garcia watched in disbelief as his tee shot smacked the base of the pin and went 18 feet away.
 
He missed the birdie putt. He missed a lot of putts in the final round, which remains the weakness in his game.
 
'Every time I get in this position, I never have any room for error,' Garcia said. 'I should write a book on how not to miss a shot and not win a playoff.'
 
But he missed several shots, muttering to himself, pleading on one occasion, 'Please, please, please my God, please.'
 
He closed with a 73, joining Harrington in the playoff at 7-under 277. The winning score was 13 shots lower than it was the last time at Carnoustie, but everything else -- especially the final holes -- was eerily similar.
 
Almost lost in the crazy finish was Harrington, who ended Europe's eight-year drought without a major.
 
It also ended the reign of Woods at golf's oldest championship. Trying to become the first player in 51 years to win the claret jug three straight times, he was never a factor. He made two early birdies, but finished with a 70, shots behind in a tie for 12th.
 
'I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be,' Woods said.
 
Romero shot a 67 in the final round and was the only player to shoot par or better all four days. He had a 34 on the back nine, despite two double bogeys that kept him from joining Angel Cabrera as a major champion from Argentina.
 
He had more to moan than Garcia. Romero's par putt from 12 feet that ultimately would have put him in the playoff hit the back of the cup and spun away, leaving him at 6-under 278.
 
'The pressure certainly caught up with me,' Romero said.
 
The bounce off the burn was so bizarre that it took a moment to figure out where it went, much like Van de Velde's approach that caromed off a tiny rail on the grandstand left of the 18th green in 1999.
 
'I did it on 17, not 18,' Romero said when asked if would be linked to the Frenchman's follies. 'But I could be put into that category by some. I certainly wasn't thinking about Jean Van de Velde at that moment.'
 
Richard Green of Australia matched the British Open record at Carnoustie with a 64 and finished at 279 with Ernie Els (69). Hunter Mahan made the cut on the number and tied for sixth with a 69-65 weekend.
 
Harrington was equally theatrical.
 
He got back in the game with a brilliant approach on the par-5 that trickled onto the green to 12 feet away for eagle, a turnaround when Romero made his double bogey.
 
Harrington came to final hole with a one-shot lead, but he knew his drive was in trouble when it headed right toward the hairpin shape of the Barry Burn. He almost got the break of a lifetime.
 
Almost.
 
It dropped into the water, and Garcia knew exactly what was going on. He was coming up the 17th fairway when Harrington was figuring out how to play his third shot to the 18th. They passed each other on the bridge, and Garcia smiled.
 
Harrington's next shot might have been worse. It was a 5-iron he hit so heavy that it bounced into the burn in front of the green, just like Van de Velde's did. There was no thought of removing his shoes and stepping into the burn. Instead, he quickly took his drop, hit a nifty pitch to 5 feet behind the hole and made a putt that gave him a sliver of hope.
 
That gave him a 67, and Garcia gave him some help.
 
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.