By John Manley
Padraig Harrington didn’t have Vijay Singh to worry about in last week’s Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates. His nemesis of the previous two weeks was absent, but Tiger Woods more than picked up the slack. Harrington had Tiger’s number (they both shot 20-under 268), but he didn’t have Thomas Bjorn’s. The Dane left the Mideast with a two-stroke victory, after signing his name to a score of 266. Harrington and Woods shared second place.
Harrington started the final round three shots behind Woods and even with Bjorn. He actually took the lead on the ninth hole, but couldn’t sustain his momentum, as Bjorn surged ahead on the back nine. The Dubliner’s cards read 66, 69, 64 and 69.
Paul McGinley cracked the top 10 with his ninth-place tie at 273 (70-64-67-72). Eamonn Darcy was right behind at 274 (68-67-70-69), earning a slice of 12th money. Des Smyth was part of a foursome at 43rd position with scores of 279 (69-69-68-73). Darren Clarke wasn’t a factor, tying for 58th place at 283 (71-69-70-73).
The move east to Florida didn’t work in Richard Coughlan’s favor. The Offaly man missed the cut in the Genuity Championship at Doral in Miami. He shot two-over 146 (72-74), when he needed 141 or better to continue.
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The pressure is off Eamonn Brady, now that the Dubliner earned a two-year exemption on this circuit with his win last week. Brady responded to this fortuitous turn of fate by missing the cut in the Tour’s Barefoot Classic at the Barefoot Resort’s Greg Norman Course in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Brady was two over par at 146 for 36 holes, when 144 would have earned him weekend tee times and a check.
European Challenge Tour
Five Irish representatives traveled to the southern hemisphere to take a shot at the Kenya Open, but the Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi proved too daunting a challenge as none of them survived the cut, which required a score of 143 or better. The quintet included Peter Lawrie, 146 (74-72), Gary Murphy, 148 (74-74), Paddy Gribben, 149 (73-76), David Jones, 150 (78-72), and Francis Howley, 152 (77-75).