Pádraig Harrington produces stunning final round to take Portugal Masters title

The Dubliner held off Andy Sullivan down the stretch for his 15th European Tour win

 Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits his second shot on the 17th hole during day four of the Portugal Masters at Victoria Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura, Portugal. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits his second shot on the 17th hole during day four of the Portugal Masters at Victoria Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura, Portugal. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Rarely does an interview go by where Pádraig Harrington doesn’t remind us all that he feels he can still get the job done coming down the stretch on a Sunday and, on a dull day in Vilamoura, he proved it yet again by producing a bogey-free final round of 65 to take the Portugal Masters title with a 23 under par total of 261.

And it was double delight for Irish golf as Paul Dunne managed to keep his tour card for next season, despite missing the cut on Friday.

Three-time major winner Harrington began the day one shot off joint leaders Anders Hansen and Mikko Korhonen but it was defending champion Andy Sullivan who he would have to hold off down the stretch.

After making a fast start in each of the first three rounds the Dubliner had to be patient on Sunday as a single birdie in the first six holes gave those around him a head start.

Meanwhile it was Sullivan who was surging to the top of the leaderboard alongside Hansen thanks to birdies at the first, second, fourth and fifth.

A birdie at the seventh kept Harrington in touch but he needed a spark to get him going and that’s exactly what he would get at the 11th.

After a poor approach found a greenside bunker at the par four he flipped a beautiful splash shot out onto the green and into the centre of the cup for an unlikely birdie.

Second Captains

“ I knew I would get an opportunity at some stage,” Harrington said afterwards.

“In every last round I’ve ever played, whether I’ve won or lost, there’s a pivotal point and if you take it it turns the tide in your favour. Obviously the bunker shot at 11 was a huge plus.”

That was the shot that ignited the 45-year-old and he would take a share of the lead with a birdie at the next before moving into sole possession at 22 under thanks to another birdie at the 14th.

But stiffer tests were to come in the last three holes. Always a supreme scrambler it was exactly those short game skills that were needed to get up-and-down from tricky spots on the 16th, 17th and 18th.

“This type of golf would suit me down to the ground all the time. There’s nowhere on this golf course where I feel I’m short-sided so I just try to be as aggresive as I can all day and go at every pin. When I miss the greens – as I have this week – I’ve been getting it up-and-down.”

But Sullivan was refusing to give his title over that easily and, just minutes after Harrington had saved par on the 16th, the Englishman joined him at the top of the leaderboard thanks to his sixth birdie of the day at the par five 17th.

But that share of the lead did not last long as Harrington repeated Sullivan’s trick at the 17th to get to 23 under and take a one stroke lead.

His work was not yet done, however. After driving right into the rough at the 18th he pushed his approach shot into the gallery where it clattered off a spectator before settling down in the clingy Bermuda grass.

But the 45-year-old isn’t a three-time major winner for no reason. From a very tough lie he pulled off a sumptuous pitch shot to six feet before calmly rolling in the putt for his 15th European Tour title and his first since 2008.

After saying earlier in the week that he would re-consider his decision to play the fall series on the PGA Tour rather than final series on the European Tour if he won, it may now be the Turkish Airlines Open in a fortnight’s time that is next on the agenda.

“I’m going to take a strong look at that because probably the biggest priority for me now is to figure a way out to qualify for the Masters. I’ll have a look to see how I sit – if I play the last three to move up in the Order of Merit or if I would be better off going at world ranking points.”

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