By John Manley
There won’t be many teeing off at Augusta on Thursday coming in off a win. One of the few will be Padraig Harrington, who overcame a string of second-place finishes to win the Sao Paulo Open in Brazil by two strokes over Gerry Norquist.
Harrington blew a two-stroke lead the previous week in Rio de Janeiro, finally losing in a playoff. Here, he was tied as Sunday dawned, and opened a lead with a birdie on the first hole. The field never caught up. The Dubliner fired rounds of 69, 68, 65 and 68 en route to the title.
Harrington had been runner-up twice already this year, a distinction he achieved on five occasions in 1999. He heads now for Georgia and his Masters debut. His two stateside visits this year have been inauspicious. He was
eliminated in the first round of the World Golf Championship Match Play at La Costa and missed the cut at the Bay Hill Invitational two weeks back. Darren Clarke will also present a rooting interest for the Irish in the
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European Seniors Tour
Tommy Horton has a tradition of winning the first event of the season on this circuit and 2000 proved no time to mess with custom. Horton was a two-stroke winner of the Barbados Open, played at the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club. This is the fourth straight year Horton has opened the campaign with a victory.
David Jones appeared the likeliest of the Irish lot to throttle Horton as he jumped out to a two-stroke lead with his opening-round 66. It wasn’t the same Jones on the course in rounds two and three, stumbling his way to scores of 74 and 73. He finished tied for fifth place at 213, five shots behind Horton’s 208.
Back for another year are Paul Leonard, who tied for 24th place at 220 (75-71-74), Eddie Polland, who tied for 26th at 221 (73-74-74), Liam Higgins (75-74-74) and Joe McDermott (72-75-76), who were among five at 29th place with scores of 223, and Denis O’Sullivan, who took a slice of 34th place at 225 (74-75-76).
John Kernohan had his strongest effort of 2000 when he finished the Louisiana Open tied for 13th place. Save for a second round 72, Kernohan was a model of consistency, shooting three-under-par 69s to end at 279. Champion Rob McKelvey was five strokes better at 274. Kernohan earned $8,190. The venue was the Le Triomphe Country Club in Lafayette, Cajun country.
That was a pretty deep hole Keith Nolan dug for himself with his first-round 76 in the BellSouth Classic at TPC at SugarLoaf in Georgia. He kept his head up, however, and shot 71 on Friday. There was no Saturday play for Nolan as 144 was needed to advance, a number he was three strokes shy of.
The past 18 months since he lost his PGA Tour playing privileges have been a dark odyssey for Richard Coughlan. He showed some of the talent that landed him at the 151st position on the 1998 money list when he tied for 19th place in the Jackaroo Steakhouse and Sauces Classic at the Emerald Lake Golf Club in Matthews, N.C.
Coughlan opened with a two-over par 73, but got the hang of the layout in round two, shooting 67. He moved up the leaderboard on Saturday with a 66, but fell back on Sunday with another 73. Coughlan’s 279 left him well behind Chad Campbell’s winning 261, but was good for earnings of $1,278 nevertheless.