Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harrington ends drought

Ryders Cup star wins Iskandar Johor Open.

THREE-TIME Major winner Padraig Harrington cruised to a three-stroke victory in the Iskandar Johor Open yesterday, ending a two-year title drought in style. The Ryder Cup star, who began the final round with a five-shot cushion, was never seriously threatened by the chasing pack, hitting a 69 to take him to a total of 20-under-par in the US$1.25m (RM3.75m) Asian Tour event.

Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Noh Seung-Yul finished second after a 65, including three birdies on the final three holes, one ahead of Taiwan's Lin Wen-Tang, who carded a 68.

"It's always nice to win, even nicer when there's been a bit of a drought. Winning is a habbit so it's nice to come out here and win and do it in style,'' said Harrington.

 "I really preferred the conditions that were there in the last two days where it was windy and it was tough to go all the pins. Today (on Sunday) was just perfect weather, perfect conditions.

"The course was in great shape and I knew people could make a lot of birdies out there so it was very important, it was in my mindset that i had to make some birdies out there, even if I made some bogeys, I needed to make plenty of birdies .''

Harrington, who takes home a cheque for nearly US$200,000 (RM600,000), was quickly into his stride yesterday, birdieing three of his first four holes and turning in 34.

His lead briefly dropped to four after fireworks from South Korea's Noh and Kiradech on the nth hole. But the unflustered Irishman, ranked 22nd in the world, extended his lead further after holing a long putt for birdie on the par-five 13th, following up with a birdie on the 14th after his second shot landed close to the pin.

Harrington, who surged to joint top of the leaderboard with two eagles in the last three holes in his first round 64, has been a model of consistency throughout the tourment.

Victory at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club in southern Malaysia was the first for the 39-year-old in an event sanctioned by any of the major tours since his win at the 2008 PGA Championship.

Harrington, who has also won the British Open twice, played with neck pain on Friday, saying he would have pulled out before the third round had he not been leading the tourment.

Following three days of hot and humid conditions, play was delayed by two hours yesterday due to a thunderstorm, with organisers opting for a two-tee start.

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