Harrington recovers Thai composure to finish with a flourish
THOUGH his victory hopes at the $1m Thailand Open were shattered by Saturday's shocking 75, Padraig Harrington still drew some consolation from his weekend at Thana City with a fourth-round 66.
Harrington, who couldn't buy a putt as he took a whopping 10 shots more than playing companions Chris Wood and Lucas Lee to complete his third round, rediscovered his finishing touch yesterday.
After tying 34th on 14-under, 10 behind winner Prayad Marksaeng (47), Harrington flew south from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for this week's Maybank Malaysian Open.
A superb closing 64 clinched victory for Marksaeng, who was so delighted at becoming the first home winner in 10 years at his national open, he leapt into the lake by the 18th hole.
Wood, the defending champion, tied fourth on 20-under after following up Saturday's 65 with a frustrating final round of 70.
Thomas Aiken, meanwhile, is the sixth South African winner on the European Tour this year. Rounds of 62 on Saturday and 67 yesterday left the 29-year-old two clear of his nearest challenger at the Avantha Masters, India's Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Aiken, whose only previous European victory came at the 2011 Open de Espana, bagged 21 birdies and two eagles at Jaypee Greens Golf Club, with just two bogeys (at 16 and 17 on Friday) in 72 holes.
Meanwhile, Ireland finished a highly creditable third in the European Nations Cup after a splendid final day at Sotogrande.
Fine last-round performances by Mourne's Reeve Whitson, winner of the recent Spanish Amateur Championship, and Rory McNamara from Headfort moved Ireland up the leaderboard.
England and France were the only countries to finish ahead of Ireland. Scotland and Wales were well down the field in ninth and 15th spots respectively.
Both Whitson and McNamara enjoyed a successful tournament with their cards counting on all four days – and they ended the contest in joint 12th and 10th places respectively.
McNamara closed with a 68, which came on top of scores of 76 and a pair of 73s for an aggregate of 290, while Whitson posted a closing 69 following 74, 72 and 76 for a total of 291.
With three of the four cards counting each day, Ireland finished on 869, 13 strokes behind England and seven adrift of France.
Reigning amateur champion Alan Dunbar returned a 73 on Saturday, but, generally, he experienced a topsy-turvy week. Both Dunbar from Rathmore and Ballymena's Dermot McElroy carded four-round totals of 300 and ended in joint 36th place in the individual reckoning.
Spain won the women's event ahead of Germany and Wales. There was no Irish women's team in the field.