Pádraig Harrington makes it a winning year with victory at Vilamoura

Forty-five year old shoots 65 in final round to claim the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura

Padraig Harrington of Ireland poses with the trophy and a bottle of beer following his victory at the Portugal Masters at Victoria Clube de Golfe. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington will have to rip up his intended late-year schedule after a stunning victory in the Portugal Masters earned him a cheque for €333,330 and, just as importantly, enabled him to gate-crash his way into the European Tour's "Final Series" of tournaments which finishes up with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next month.

Having originally intended to play a number of tournaments on the PGA Tour's wraparound 2016/17 season stateside, Harrington's win – his first on the European Tour since his 2008 US PGA success – ensured he jumped up to 43rd in the latest Race to Dubai standings and earned a place in the field for the Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship.

Scary eyes

The 45-year-old Dubliner’s scary eyes which had been a hallmark of his three Major triumphs returned on the Algarve as he finished with a final round bogey-free 65 for a total of 261, 23-under-par, for a one stroke winning margin over England’s

Andy Sullivan



Harrington's last tour win had come in dramatic fashion at the Honda Classic in March of last year and victory in the Portugal Masters, where he made an impressive up-and-down from heavy greenside rough for a par on the 18th, was the 30th victory worldwide of his career.

His winning total of 261 is the lowest of the European Tour season, beating the 262 of Francesco Molinari at the Italian Open. The win moved Harrington back into the world's top 100, from 159th up to 97th.

An 80-1 shot at the start of the tournament, Harrington – a vice-captain at the recent Ryder Cup defeat in Hazeltine – again demonstrated his competitive streak with a round that featured six birdies, four of which came on the home stretch as he closed in on the title.

“It’s always important to get a win every year, [to have] a winning year. It’s a big win. The Portugal Masters is a big tournament . . . . there’s so many Irish people here, it’s always felt like a home away from home. I tried to be really aggressive.

Make birdies

“The golf course suited me and I just tried to go after every pin I could and make birdies. I have a pretty good short game that was on form this week. No matter where I hit it, I felt like I could get it up and down.”

Nowhere was that approach more true that in his final actions on the 18th, where he again showed that short game wizardry to save par and claim the title. Cue the trademark fist pumps into the air as the final putt rolled into the hole, and the subsequent embrace with long-time caddie Ronan Flood.

The Portugal Masters was the final tournament of the regular season with David Howell, in 111th position on the money list, earning the last tour card for the 2017 season.

Paul Dunne, who had missed the cut, retained his card for next season finishing 107th on the European Tour order of merit standings.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times