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So close yet so far for Padraig

PADRAIG Harrington came within two shots of retaining his Johor Open crown in Malaysia but had to settle for a share of third place, although his |placing should provide him with a real confidence boost with his best finish so far this season.

His final-round 69 was not enough to reel in Dutchman Joost Luiten, who beat overnight leader Daniel Chopra by a single stroke.

Trailing Chopra by four shots at the start of the day, Luiten compiled a six-under-par 65 to fend off the Swede with a winning score of 15 under par.

After the tournament had been reduced to 54 holes due to yesterday’s rain at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, Chopra could only produce a final round of 70 and needed a birdie at the last to ensure he finished alone in |second on 14 under.

Harrington, James Morrison and Rhys Davies ended in a tie for third on 13 under.

Harrington reached the turn two under after birdies on eight and nine.

However, consecutive bogeys at the 11th and 12th halted his progress |and, although he picked up two more shots at the next two holes, |he ultimately fell short.

Harrington was content with his week’s work, if not the final result.

“I was happy with a lot of things this week,” said the Irishman. “I’m happy with my form, I’m happy with the way I’m playing, and most of all I’m happy with where my head was at. I’m just a little disappointed with the finished result.

”Joost obviously played very well today.”

After missing the cut by an abject six strokes in Singapore the previous week, Harrington at least rediscovered his putting touch across the border in Malaysia as he clinched his first top-five finish since winning in Johor 13 months ago and only his second in 39 outings since his runner-up finish |at the 2010 Irish Open.

“At least it gives me a lot of confidence for the last couple of events,” added the Dubliner, who goes to Hong Kong in 10 days needing a top-six finish to be certain of climbing from his 64th in the Race to Dubai into the leading 60.

A closing 67 earned Peter Lawrie a share of 29th on six-under and €11,741, while Michael Hoey was one shot further back in 38th (worth €8,733) after his final-round 72.

Damien McGrane and Gareth Maybin have both slipped a couple of rungs further down the European ladder after missing the cut.

McGrane, in 112th, should still find himself among the all-important top 115 after the remaining two events of the regular season.

However, Maybin, currently 117th, needs to boost his prospects of keeping his card this week in the South African Open and then in Hong Kong.

Shane Lowry is so comfortably ensconced inside the European top 60, at No 45, that he could well afford a week in Miyazaki for the Dunlop Phoenix, the scene of his first top-10 finish as a professional in November 2009.

His final round of three-under-par 68 yesterday clinched Lowry a share of third, on seven-under-par, with American Ricky Barnes, leaving both of them 8.4m Yen (€84,000) richer.