By John Manley
Padraig Harrington traded birdies and bogeys at The Players Championship to finish tied for 22nd place at one-over-par 289 (70-72-77-70). Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley were stymied by Sawgrass and missed the cut.
Harrington caught fire early on. After a par-4 on the opening hole Thursday, he proceeded to birdie the next three holes, pars 4, 2 and 3, in that order. After a couple more pars, he birdied the par-4 seventh hole. But then he gave a couple shots back with bogeys on 8 and 9. Despite those miscues, he carded 34, 2 under par, for the front nine. He had an unremarkable tour of the back nine, which was marred only by a bogey on 18.
Friday’s second round was feast or famine for Harrington. He combined five bogeys with five birdies and shot even-par 72 to score low enough to move on to weekend play.
Saturday proved Harrington’s undoing. He had trouble off the tees, averaging more than 30 yards less than on the other three days and was plagued with an inability to find the green. He went out in 39, with three bogeys, then took a bogey-5 on the par-4 10th hole. Consecutive birdies on 11 and 12 were followed by alternating bogeys and birdies on the next four holes. Then he tried the par-3 17th and its island green. The triple bogey-6 that Harrington carded here played a large role in his descent down the leaderboard. He ended the round 5 over par with 77.
Harrington kept his head about him and made up some ground on Sunday. After going 2 over for the round after holing out at 10, he reeled off four straight birdies, then finished even over the final four holes to end the round 2 under par at 70. He picked up $55,700 for finishing nine strokes behind the winner, Craig Perks.
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After finishing the front nine of Friday’s second round, making the cut hardly seemed a concern for McGinley. He went out in 4-under-par 32, thanks to four birdies offset by a single bogey. Another bogey at 10 slowed him some, but then play was halted due to darkness.
McGinley resumed play on Saturday morning with a bogey-6 on 11, then was even over the next four holes. A birdie on 16 may have caused him to let his guard down a bit at 17. The water got his tee shot and he took a double bogey-5. Rattled, he bogeyed 18 and missed the cut by a stroke.
Clarke was never a threat after carding 76 on Thursday, a round in which he had four bogeys and no birdies. He came to life somewhat on Friday, going 1-under for the round on 11. He held that status over the next three holes, then bogeyed 15, birdied 16, and closed with bogeys at 17 and 18. Three strokes separated him from weekend play.
PGA European Tour
Philip Walton started the fourth and final round of the Madeira Island Open only two strokes behind the co-leaders, but could shoot no better than 75 to finish tied for ninth place at 286 (70-73-68-75). Diego Borrego, who began the round one shot behind Walton, rallied to take the championship by one stroke.
Des Smyth, who won this tournament at Santo de Serra Golf Club in Portugal last year, got off to a promising start, with a 3-under-par 69. Subsequent rounds of 74, 73 and 73 left him tied for 18th place at 289. David Higgins shared 48th position with several others at 296 (73-73-72-78). Peter Lawrie, at 153 (81-72), needed five strokes more than were allowed to make the cut.
James Loughnane recorded five-under-par 208 (70-69-69) to finish tied for 28th place in the FNB Botswana Open. The event took place at the Gaborone Golf Club in Botswana.
European Seniors Tour
The five Irishmen at the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic offered little resistance, with Joe McDermott’s 33rd place tie the best showing of the quintet. McDermott was five over par with his 221 (73-72-76), 16 strokes behind champion Steve Stull. Denis O’Sullivan was one stroke behind McDermott in a tie for 37th place with 222 (74-72-76). Paul Leonard, at 225 (75-77-73), had 47th place to himself. Eddie Polland signed to 226 (75-74-77), which left him tied for 48th place, with Liam Higgins another stroke behind in 51st place at 227 (74-79-74).