Category: Archive

Harrington repels Woods

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Padraig Harrington brought a six-stroke lead over Tiger Woods into Sunday’s final round of the 16-man tournament, which was hand-picked by Woods (proceeds benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation). The lead was up to eight after two holes and then the tide turned.
Harrington stayed even over the next eight holes, but Woods carded birdies on four of those holes to trim his deficit to four strokes. Holding par might not seem the worst scenario, but Harrington didn’t run up such a large advantage by playing to protect a lead, and he has been trying to shake a reputation as one who can’t close the deal over the final 18 holes.
Woods, with a score of 133, and Harrington at 134 were low men after Friday’s play and were paired for Saturday. Harrington was quickly out of the blocks when he eagled the second hole for the third time in as many days. He birdied the third hole as Woods took a bogey, which was followed with another bogey on No. 4.
Harrington went up by three strokes at the fifth hole, when he holed out from 90 yards with a sand wedge for eagle. Woods, who struggled with his putter all day, settled for birdie when his eagle putt just missed.
The pendulum swung back on No. 6 when a Harrington bogey and a Woods birdie left the Dubliner’s lead at one stroke. That went unchanged until No. 9, where Harrington began to pull away. His four-foot birdie putt rimmed the cup, but Woods took a bogey to put Harrington up by two.
Woods then bogeyed No. 10, while Harrington drained a three-foot birdie putt for a four-stroke edge. Woods then birdied 11, but was no match for his rival, whose approach shot from the fairway hit the pin and dribbled a couple feet away. The eagle putt was successful and the lead was up to five.
At 13, Woods fell back into third place with another bogey, as Harrington bagged another bird. Nick Price briefly occupied second place. Harrington, up by six strokes over Woods at this point, maintained his advantage en route to a course-record 63. He was especially effective on the par-5s on Saturday, which he played 8-under par.
Harrington stayed in attack mode with the opening birdies on Sunday, but he wouldn’t gain another stroke on Woods until the 12th hole. The lead fell to three at 11, where Harrington recorded his first bogey on a par-5 in the tournament. He got the stroke back at 12, but gave it back at 13, where he went par to Woods’s birdie.
Disaster loomed at the par-4 14th hole, where Harrington’s drive landed in ground under repair. He could have lifted onto better soil, but would then have had to play around a large tree. He hooked his approach shot out of bounds and chose to take a penalty stroke and replay the ball. His second attempt was far from ideal, but stayed in play. He played a wedge to three feet from the pin, which he knocked in with one whack of the putter for double bogey. Woods settled for par and was just one stroke off.
Harrington appeared rattled and Woods radiated confidence. He even cracked a smile, unseen earlier in the day, seemingly sure of how the story would end.
Harrington then received a gift at 16 from Woods, who hooked his approach shot far left of the green. The ball came to rest on a hillside, amidst brush and undergrowth. Woods somehow managed to get the ball down the hill, but was still faced with a tricky chip. The ball scurried across the green and came to rest on the fringe. The world’s No. 1 then chipped in for a miraculous par. Harrington, meanwhile, seized the moment and two-putted for birdie and a two-stroke lead.
Harrington gave it right back at 17, however. His par was bested by Woods’s birdie and the advantage was again down to one.
Woods gifted his rival again at 18, where his second shot landed in the rough surrounding the green. That led to his only bogey of the round. Harrington was on in two, and two-putted for par to win by two strokes.
While still exhaling, Harrington acknowledged Woods’s rallying tendencies.
“He didn’t relent,” Harrington said. “He kept the pressure on. I heard someone say on No. 13, ‘Oh, Tiger is in his head.’ I’m thinking, ‘He’s been in there all day.’ “
Despite seeming to crumble at 14, Harrington indicated that he was still optimistic.
“I was reasonably confident that I could keep going afterward,” Harrington said.
Harrington finished the tournament with a 72-hole score of 268 (65-69-63-71) to Woods’s 270. First place amounted to $1 million.
Harrington teams up with Paul McGinley as the Irish representatives in this weekend’s World Cup in Mexico.

Tim Rice mixed low scores with high en route to a 10th-place tie in the Vodacom Players Championship at the Royal Cape Golf Club in Cape Town, South Africa. Rice finished at 282 (74-66-75-67), which was 10 strokes off the winning score posted by Mark McNulty. Rice earned $3,481.
Padraig Dooley tied for 63rd place at 291 (69-74-75-73), which was good for $548. The cut enabled anyone shooting 145 or better to continue playing. Falling on wrong side of this threshold were James Loughnane, 149 (78-71), and Ciaran McMonagle, 151 (74-77).

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