By John Manley
Perhaps Padraig Harrington can take consolation from last weekend’s U.S.
Open in that as long as Phil Mickelson fails to win a major, all the heat will be on Lefty. Had Mickelson let Tiger Woods slip away in head-to-head play, as Harrington did on Saturday, there would be no end to the media blare. Fortunately for Harrington, who finished fifth behind Woods at both the Masters in April and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000, and tied for
eighth Sunday at Bethpage Black, he is somewhat under the radar.
Harrington was closest to Woods after the first two rounds, entitling him to the privilege (or albatross, if you will) of accompanying the world’s top-ranked golfer on Saturday. Harrington’s 138 (70-68) was three strokes behind the pace set by Woods and four strokes ahead of the group tied for third place.
The third round began auspiciously enough with Harrington making clutch putts from 10 and 15 feet for par on the first and second holes, respectively. He two-putted for bogey on three, while Woods made par, to fall behind by four. But he got one back with a birdie on four, after an eagle putt from 60 feet broke right from the hole, stopping a foot away.
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The par-4 fifth hole saw Woods go up by four again, despite his bogey there, as Harrington took a double bogey 6. His third shot flew over the green into a back bunker. He got out cleanly, but the ball rolled downhill to about 12 feet from the pin. Harrington then needed two putts to get off the green.
Harrington later three-putted for bogey at the par-3 eighth hole, allowing Woods to go up by five. The gap increased to six by the end of the round, with a handful of others passing Harrington, who finished with 73 for the round.
Paired with a rejuvenated Nick Faldo for Sunday’s final round, Harrington tried to go long, hoping not to sacrifice accuracy for distance, but the numbers indicate that this strategy failed him. His 75 was the highest score he carded, although his average drive of 298.5 yards on Sunday carried more than 20 yards longer than his average for the first three days. However, he hit fewer fairways and greens in regulation than he had the first three rounds. A double bogey 6 on 18 was especially costly. Par would have earned him sole possession of fifth place.
Harrington’s 286, which was nine strokes behind Woods’ winning number, brought $138,669 in earnings.
Darren Clarke was part of a trio that included Woods and Chris DiMarco on Thursday and Friday, but none of Tiger’s sparkle rubbed off on Clarke. Clarke tied for 24th place with DiMarco and four others who signed their names to scores of 291. Interestingly, Clarke and DiMarco shot identical numbers of 74, 74, 72 and 71. Their take was $47,439.
The struggling Paul McGinley missed the cut, which was established at 150. He came in with 154 (75-79). On Friday, he three-putted three times and needed four putts to hole out on another occasion.
Euro Seniors Tour
Joe McDermott posted his best showing in quite some time, tying for 10th place in the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters at La Moye Golf Club. McDermott was only two strokes off the leader going into the third and final round, but then he shot three-over-par 75 to drop out of contention. His 212 (69-68-75) left him seven shots behind Delroy Cambridge, who was a two-stroke winner over Tommy Horton.
Denis O’Sullivan, likewise, was undone on Sunday. He tied for 13th place at 213 (69-71-73). Farther down the leaderboard were Paul Leonard, tied for 36th place at 220 (73-73-74), Eddie Polland, tied for 48th place at 224 (72-76-76), and Liam Higgins, tied for 58th place at 228 (76-76-76).
Senior PGA Tour
Christy O’Connor Jr. recorded the second-best round on Saturday in the
BellSouth Senior Classic at the Springhouse Golf Club in Nashville, Tenn., but, in the final analysis, all his 66 did was keep him from finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard. O’Connor sandwiched rounds of 75 and 73 around the 66 to finish two under par at 214, good for a 45th place tie. He
earned $5,600. Gil Morgan’s 202 was the victorious number.
Stewart & Stewart Tour
Chris Devlin tied for 17th place in this circuit’s stop last week at the Lakes at Laura Walker in Waycross, Ga. The Ballymena native shot 276 (67-72-69-68) to finish 11 strokes behind the victorious Steve Gilley.
Devlin hurt his chances with a triple bogey 7 on the 10th hole in the second round and a double bogey 6 on the course’s toughest hole, the ninth, the final time around. Devlin earned $712.86.
Euro Challenge Tour
The junior circuit offered two events last week, the richer of the two being the St. Omer Open at the St. Omer Golf Club in France. Damien McGrane shared 12th place with his 286 (72-70-72-72). Peter Lawrie was one of seven golfers in 35th place with scores of 290 (72-71-74-73).
A trio missed the cut, which was set at 145. Gary Murphy was closest at 146
(71-75), followed by David Higgins, 147 (76-71), and, inexplicably, Philip Walton, 153 (74-79). Just last week, Walton made it to the weekend at the English Masters against Europe’s best. Nicolas Vanhootegem shot 277 for a four-stroke victory.
In Dusseldorf, Germany, the Galeria Kaufhof Pokal Challenge was held at the Rittergut Birkhof Golf Club. Stephen Browne tied for 36th place at 285 (71-70-73-71), with Ciaran McMonagle two shots behind at 287 (71-68-70-78), which placed him in a tie for 45th place. Alex Cejka shot 271
for the win.