Harrington's challenge falls short

 

Ireland's Pádraig Harrington was cursing a couple of bad breaks over the closing holes that cost him a chance of capping a magnificent year with a Singapore Open victory. Harrington spent the entire afternoon duelling with India's Jeev Milkha Singh but his final round 70 was only good enough to finish in joint second with South Africa's Ernie Els on six under, a stroke away from forcing a play-off.

Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy  carded a 69 to finish on five under and in a tie for fourth with Australian David Gleeson.

Fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke was one-over-par after a 71.

"I hit a couple of good shots at the end (yet they) were the ones that cost me," Harrington said in a television interview. "I got a few breaks earlier in the round and was holding things together.

"I hit a lovely shot into 16 that resulted in a double bogey and a lovely shot at the last that was about six inches away from being a short putt for eagle.

"But that's the way golf goes. I holed the right putts at the right time this year and I may not feel good about this for a few hours but I am still delighted with my year."

The three-time major winner started his final round five shots behind leader Chapchai Nirat of Thailand and stormed up the leaderboad with three birdies in his first four holes before the difficult par-71 Serapong Course started to hit back.

Harrington could only par his next 12 holes to remain tied with Singh for the lead on eight-under before disaster struck on the par-four 16th hole where his approach shot skipped off the putting surface and into the lake at the back of the green.

"I got off to a good start but it's a tough golf course when you are in the lead. It was all about holding on and trying to make what you could when you are out there," Harrington added.

"I really felt good. On 16, I felt I had a great chance to win the tournament and hit a little nine-iron that I thought I was being a little cautious with.

"To be honest, I thought I was hitting it 15 feet short of the hole and couldn't believe it when I saw it go over the back."

Singh bogeyed the same hole to lead by one after the pair parred the par-three 17th and while the 36-year-old Indian could only par the par-five 18th, Harrington gambled on reaching the green in two to either win outright or force a playoff.

His tee shot flirted with the water and his second shot, a difficult fairway wood hit while perched on the edge of the lake, just rolled through the green and up the bank at the back of the hole.

Harrington opted to putt for eagle but left the ball five-feet short of the cup. His short birdie putt then slipped across the face of the hole and his challenge was over.

"This game can be a game of inches and I certainly got the right breaks this year and while I am not thrilled at the moment, I am sure I will get over it," he added.