By John Manley
When Padraig Harrington’s bio is written, the year 2000 will be remembered as the year he blew a tournament by forgetting to sign a scorecard. The Dubliner continues to blot the memory of that debacle by holding his chin up and playing the kind of golf that enabled him to win the Turespana Masters at Club de Campo in Madrid, Spain on Sunday.
Harrington was in the hunt from the outset, shooting a four-under-par 67 to close out the first round two strokes off the lead. His finest 18 holes of the tourney came on Friday, when he shot 64 to assume the lead. He remained in command to the completion of play, firing rounds of 66 and 70 to end the proceedings 17 under at 267. Gary Orr was two shots back at 269.
The title was Harrington’s third on the European Tour. He won the Spanish Open at Club de Campo in 1996 and earlier this year won a Tour event in Brazil. First money of $143,000 boosts him to eighth on the Volvo Order of Merit.
Darren Clarke needed at least a second place finish to close the gap on Lee Westwood in the Order of Merit scramble, but he could rise no higher than a fourth-place finish. After an opening round 66, Clarke shot consecutive rounds of 70, before closing with 65. His total of 271 left him four strokes off Harrington’s score, and $55,000 behind Westwood, who did not compete in this event.
Also showing well were Paul McGinley, who tied for fifth place at 272 (67-69-68-68) and Eamonn Darcy, who tied for ninth place at 274 (69-67-67-71). Tied for 25th place was Des Smyth, who shot 278 (70-69-69-70). Missing the cut, which was set at 141, were Gary Murphy, 142 (72-70), and Ronan Rafferty, 153 (78-75).
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The final 18 holes have been Denis O’Sullivan’s undoing in several tournaments this year, but he withstood the pressure to win the Dan Technology Seniors Tournament of Champions in England on Sunday.
After holing out on 15, O’Sullivan seemed poised for another close, but fruitless, finish. He was two shots behind the leaders but birdied the last three holes at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club in London to pull ahead at just the right time. His 205 (70-69-66) left him one shot ahead of Maurice Bembridge, Nick Job and Ross Metherell.
The victory was O’Sullivan’s first on this circuit. Long a fixture on the Irish amateur track, he turned pro two years ago at the age of 50 with the intention of making a mark among his contemporaries. He has been hampered by back ailments throughout the year but seems to have risen above the pain.
Two of the three 10th place finishers at 210 were Irishmen Eddie Polland (67-71-72) and Liam Higgins (73-69-68). David Jones tied for 26th at 215 (70-74-71).
Senior PGA Tour
Christy O’Connor Jr. tied for 23rd place at the EMC Kaanapali Classic at the Royal Kaanapali Country Club in Hawaii. His 207 (69-70-68) was nine shots behind Hale Irwin’s winning 198. O’Connor earned $11,022.
Keith Nolan offered little in the way of encouragement as Q-School looms. The Bray, Co. Wicklow, man was far off the cut line in the Tampa Bay Classic at the Westin Innisbrook Resort. He struggled through rounds of 78 and 74.
Richard Coughlan looked impressive in advancing through the first stage of the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament. Coughlan teed off at the GreyStone Country Club in Dickson, Tenn., where his 16-under 272 (67-68-70-67) was the second best score at that venue. Coughlan, of Birr, Co. Offaly, has two more stages to go through in order to regain the status he held two years ago.