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Harrington sweeps to victory in the Linde German Masters

Padraig Harrington came from behind to claim a notable victory in the Linde German Masters and at the same time gave watching Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer the perfect boost for next week’s contest at Oakland Hills Country Club. For the Irishman became the third Ryder Cup Team Member in the last three weeks to win on The European Tour, following in the footsteps of Miguel Angel Jiménez (BMW International Open) and Luke Donald (Omega European Masters).

The Irishman started the last round three shots adrift of overnight leader Graeme McDowell but turned matters around on a thrilling final day in front of huge galleries at Gut Lärchenhof to move to sixth on the Volvo Order of Merit with €1,488,804 (£1,010,365).

Harrington carded a final round 70 for a 13 under par total of 275 to win by three shots from Australian left hander Nick O’Hern, who posted a 70 for 278, while McDowell shared third with Raphaël Jacquelin on nine under par 279 after respective closing rounds of 77 and 73.

“This is great especially because I came so close in 1999 and it has been a good tournament for me,” said Harrington. Obviously this week the golf course was substantially different, it was very difficult out there and it is also good to win shooting 75 in the second round as well.

“To come back with a 64 in the third round and then to shoot 70 today starting with two bogeys was good perseverance. My confidence was up this week as was my perseverance.”

Harrington also revealed that the victory gave him added satisfaction and it finally put to an end any doubt that his form was not as it should be, having missed the cut in his last tournament, the BMW International Open in Munich.

“I try not to worry too much about what people outside my immediate circle say, I try and listen to close friends but it is hard not to hear that he is not going so well, or not playing so well so it was nice to turn it around with a week like this.”

Ironically, the day began in perfect fashion for McDowell with a start he could only have dreamt about. Beginning the round three shots in front of Harrington, his lead was immediately five when he birdied the opening hole as the Ryder Cup man bogeyed.

Harrington’s disappointing beginning continued when he dropped another shot at the second hole to fall six shots adrift of McDowell although the Ulsterman gave hope to the chasing pack when he fired his approach through the green at the fifth on his way to a bogey five.

Harrington, aiming for his first European Tour success since his win in the Omega Hong Kong Open in December 2003, began his fightback with a birdie at the par five seventh but it was the demanding 469 yard ninth hole that provided the final day’s turning point.

Faced with a difficult downhill lie in the bunker to the left of the putting surface, McDowell could only look on in anguish as his thinned escape shot from the sand, flew the green and trundled into the water at the other side.

After taking a penalty drop, McDowell pitched and putted for a double bogey six, a mistake which was magnified seconds before when Harrington rolled in a 25 foot putt across the putting surface for a birdie three to draw the two main combatants level at 12 under par for the tournament.

Graeme McDowell
The duo were level for only one further hole, however, before Harrington regained the lead he had last held at the end of the first round after his opening 66, when McDowell again found bunker trouble, this time at the short 11th.

A par three was enough for Harrington to assume pole position as the Northern Irishman pulled his escape shot from the sand 15 feet wide of the hole and two putted for a bogey four to drop back to 11 under par for the tournament, one shot off the pace.

Both players birdied the first par five of the back nine, the 509 yard 13th, to edge further clear of the chasing pack before Harrington increased his lead at the 14th courtesy of another McDowell slip, the 25 year old from Portrush firing his approach through the green before pitching to seven feet and missing the putt.

If ever there was any doubt about the destiny of the trophy and the €500,000 (£339,321) first prize, they were ended at the 15th and 16th holes, Harrington rolling in a ten footer for birdie at the former before McDowell found water again at the latter for another double bogey which also ruled out his chance of finishing second.

In the end that honour went to O’Hern who produced solid and steady golf in the testing conditions with four birdies in total to negate his two dropped shots of the day at the sixth and 12th.

“I am delighted with my finish for a couple of reason,” said the Australian, “Firstly it pushes me through the €1 million mark and it also sews up my place in the Amex in Ireland in a couple of weeks time.

“My coach is coming over next week as well which is great because I haven’t seen him for a couple of months and we can do some work on my swing which will hopefully help consolidate my position in the top 15 of the Volvo Order of Merit which will guarantee me entry into the Majors for next year.”

It was a disappointing day for McDowell, who started with great hopes of landing his third European Tour title and his second of the year after his win in the 61st Telecom Italia Open in May, but found it not to be.

Despite an encouraging start with his birdie at the first, the tough, windy conditions took their toll and trips into the water at both the ninth and the 16th cost him two double bogeys from where there was no way back and he shared third with Jacquelin.

However, he was given a supreme vote of confidence by the eventual champion Harrington. “Graeme is a great golfer and it will not be a surprise to see him lining up to travel to Ireland for the 2006 Ryder Cup in two years time at The K Club,” he said.


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