A lull in the European Tour brought Ireland’s top golfers, save for DarrenClarke, to Powerscourt for the Smurfit Irish Professional Championship.
Padraig Harrington brought a one-stroke lead into the third and final roundat Powerscourt, having shot 143 over the first two days. A 73, however,left him tied with three others at 216 after 54 holes, forcing a sudden-death playoff. Harrington, representing Mount Juliet, cut the suspense short, going one-up on his rivals on the first extra hole by holing a25-foot putt to win the championship and the first prize of £16,600.
Closing well to tie Harrington at 216 were Des Smyth (representing Westpoint Fitness Centre, 71-77-68), Francis Howley (Milltown, 73-73-70) and Michael Bannon (Holywood, 74-72-70). They raked in £7,566 apiece.
Rounding out the top 15 were Damian McGrane (Wexford) at 218 (73-71-73); a foursome at 219 consisting of Paul McGinley (K-Club, 70-80-69), Raymond Burns (unattached, 72-76-71), John McHenry (unattached, 75-73-71) and Philip Walton (unattached, 74-73-72); Christy O’Connor, Jr. (Galway Bay, 74-76-70) and Paul Russell (Royal Belfast, 75-74-71) at 220; and a foursome at 221 that included J. Dwyer (The Ward, 73-75-73), Stephen Hamill (Allen Park, 76-73-72), Jimmy Heggarty (Spawell, 74-73-74) and D. Walker (Foxrock, 71-75-75). Touring pros David Higgins (Waterville) and Eamonn Darcy (Druids Glen) finished down the list at 225 and 226, respectively.
PGA pressure on Coughlan
Richard Coughlan won’t be in a Mickey Mouse frame of mind when he descends upon Orlando for this week’s Walt Disney World Classic. The Tour rookie from Birr, Co. Offaly, needs to play his best golf of the year if he is to avoid a trip to Q-School in November to requalify for next year.
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Coughlan began the Las Vegas Invitational well enough, shooting 68 and 70 the first two times around, positioning him in the top 40, close enough to make a run up the leaderboard if he were to catch fire. But the flames didn’t blaze, they merely smoldered in the third round, which saw Coughlan hit the clubhouse with a 75. Had he shot 76, he would have missed the 54-hole cut in this 90-hole event. He finished with rounds of 71 and 74, tying him for 66th place at 2-under 358. He was 23 strokes behind the medalist, Jim Furyk. Coughlan earned $4,120, which inches him up the money ladder, but requires that he make approximately $70,000 this week if he is to finish in the top 125.
A top 10 placing at Disney could make that happen.
Woosnam ousts Clarke
There is no second or third round in which to recover in the Cisco World Match Play Championship. Play poorly in your opening round and you’re eliminated, as Darren Clarke was last Thursday. The Portrush man was seeded seventh in the 16-man field and was pitted against Ian Woosnam at the Wentworth Club’s west course in Surrey, England. The match was over at the 15th green, as Woosnam held a four-hole edge, with three remaining. Had Clarke won, he would have faced Tiger Woods on Friday, but that honor went instead to Woosnam, who was ousted by the American.
Woods advanced to the final round, where he was defeated by Mark O’Meara, his good friend and neighbor in Isleworth, Fla.
Jones shared 3rd
David Jones has one more chance to break through with a victory when this circuit draws to a close for 1998 with its Tour Championship in Buckingshire, England, this week. Once again, Jones finished within smelling distance of the leader, posting a 4-under 212 (72-70-70),which left him three behind Malcolm Gregson at 209 in the Is Molas Senior Open at Sardinia, Italy.
Tommy Horton was second at 211, thereby wrapping up the Order of Merit title on this circuit for the third year in a row. Jones shared third place with Michael Slater and Bob Lendzion.
Farther down the leaderboard were Eddie Polland, tied for 11th at 215 (72-72-71); Paul Leonard, tied for 19th at 218 (75-74-69); Joe McDermott, tied for 33rd at 222 (72-75-75); Dr. Arthur Spring, tied for 39th at 223 (75-77-71); Tommy Halpin, 42nd at 224 (77-72-75); Liam Higgins, tied for 43rd at 225 (77-76-72); Denis O’Sullivan, tied for 46th at 226 (76-78-72); Michael Murphy, tied for 49th at 229 (75-76-78), and Gordon Parkhill, tied for 53rd at 230 (75-75-80). Among those tied for 55th at 231 were Arnold O’Connor (78-77-76) and Hugh Jackson (77-74-80).