PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON could not quite conjure a fairytale end to his US campaign but it was not for the lack of effort as the Tour Championship reached its climax in Georgia last night.
Harrington, seeking a first victory of the year that would also give him a shot at a US$10 million bonus as FedEx Cup champion, fell short in the attempt but secured a sixth straight top-10 finish Stateside.
The Irishman finished with a one-under-par 69 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta as Phil Mickelson secured the US$1.35m first prize and Tiger Woods secured the FedEx Cup and the small matter of that bonus.
Mickelson won by three strokes from Woods following a five-under round of 65, while the world number one secured second place and the US$10m thanks to a steady level-par 70, with Sean O’Hair third at five under and Harrington sharing fourth with overnight leader Kenny Perry at four under par.
Perry had mimicked his Masters meltdown earlier in the year as he once again buckled on the final stretch of a big tournament, his two-shot 54-hole lead evaporating under pressure from Mickelson.
Harrington had seemingly been going in the same direction having started the day five shots off the pace. He made a scrambling start, saving par at the second and third holes, on the latter hole having driven into a fairway bunker and from there into greenside rough. From there, Harrington’s rescuing prowess came to the fore as he chipped out to six feet.
Yet the Irishman’s first move of the day was backwards as he three-putted the par-four fifth, missing his par putt from inside five feet to slip to two under.
There was worse to come as the Irishman bogeyed the 209-yard par-three sixth hole, his tee shot clearing the all-water carry but finding the a greenside bunker. He splashed out to 22 feet to two-putt for a four, leaving him six shots off Perry’s lead at one under.
Then came the fightback, Harrington’s tee shot at the par-three, 197-yard 11th rolling to within two feet
for birdie and then recouping two more shots with back to back birdies at the 14th and 15th.
At the 14th, Harrington found left rough off the tee but from 148 yards out, sent his second shot to inside three feet for birdie. Then at the par-five 15th, his third shot from short of the green landed inside three feet and he promptly moved to five under, three shots back on Mickelson’s lead, Perry having steadily fallen away.
Suddenly back in a position to convert his sixth place in the FedEx Cup standings into a $10m payday, Harrington’s approach at the 16th plugged into greenside rough but again he rescued the situation with a delicate chip to six inches from the hole to save par.
He needed birdies though and at the 17th second shot 155 yards from the pin gave himself a makeable 35-foot birdie putt to really put the pressure on. What looked like a misread of the green, though, saw his effort roll well left of the hole and he had to settle for par again.
The round ended in disappointing fashion as his tee shot at the 18th saw an overcooked five wood land out the back of the green. His chip was not as effective as at the 16th and from 13 feet, Harrington missed the par putt to end his bid at four under par.
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