Eagle-eyed Harrington delights in Turkish form
Pádraig Harrington could only doff his cap to Justin Rose after he produced his full repertoire of final-round fireworks and still came up two strokes shy of the in-form Englishman in the Turkish Airlines Open.
The Dubliner went into the final round two strokes adrift of compatriot Shane Lowry and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the sumptuous Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
But even though he chipped in for a birdie on the front nine, holed a 60-yard wedge shot for a miraculous par at the 10th to remain in touch and eagled the 15th to grab a share of the lead, his four-under-par 67 was only good enough for solo fourth behind the fast-finishing Rose.
As Harrington was rolling in an 18-footer for eagle at the 15th, where Lowry found a watery grave and eventually shot a disappointing 72 to finish five adrift in a tie for eighth, Rose was in the process of putting together a sensational finish to follow his comeback win in the WGC-HSBC Champions a week earlier with another nail-biting victory.
Having birdied the 15th, the 37-year-old former US Open champion birdied the 16th and then made another birdie from 10 feet at the 18th for a six-under 65 to overhaul playing partner Nicolas Colsaerts (66) and clubhouse leader Dylan Frittelli (64) on 18-under par.
"I'm very happy leaving," said Harrington, who needed to hole his approach at the par-four 18th to force a play-off but came up 15 feet short.
"I know I didn't win the tournament, but you know, Justin clearly went ahead and won it. I didn't lose it. I made it quite exciting at times out there, but I was happy with what I saw in myself."
Harrington made just one costly mistake all day, three-putting for bogey at the 11th having spectacularly avoided dropping a shot at the long par-four 10th by holing out from 60 yards after finding water with a daring rescue wood from the pine trees.
When he followed a three-putt bogey at the 11th with a two-putt birdie at the 12th, he was tied with Lowry on 14-under heading down the par-five 15th and very much in the hunt.
But as the Offaly man found water short, dropping out of the title race with a bogey, Harrington made eagle to briefly join the lead only to discover one hole later that his rivals were going into overdrive.
"Fair play to the three guys ahead of me," Harrington said. "I don't feel bad about coming home with an eagle and [three] pars for my last few holes, but just they were better players today."
Harrington picked up 296,003 Ryder Cup points and while he joins Lowry and Paul Dunne (who finished ten behind Rose in 23rd after a 72) in this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, he's already looking forward to his winter break.
"It's nice to show some form at the end of the year and give yourself some clarity about what you're going to do during the winter," he said. "You're always learning about yourself. This week was a good week for me."
Denied on the greens, Lowry moved up to 49th in the Race to Dubai and still has chances in South Africa and Dubai to end his two-year victory drought.
As for Rose (pictured, left), his birdie on the 72nd hole was worth 985,495 Race to Dubai points and means he is now just 134,839 behind long-time leader Fleetwood with two events remaining.
"This is incredibly sweet," beamed Rose, who remains sixth in the world. "It's like a bus; you wait ages for one and then two turn up at once."
Still planning to skip Sun City this week before returning in Dubai, Rose added: "I haven't been in a situation where I've rolled in many putts on the 18th green to win a tournament.
"And obviously the way things were unfolding on the course today, I knew that that putt on 18 was critical, whether it be for a play-off or it be for the win. It was a very satisfying putt on 18 to make when I had to.
"I would have said it was a B-minus season a couple weeks ago," continued said. "Now I'm probably at an A-minus with one putt at Augusta away from being an A-plus. This is the first time I've won back-to-back titles and another first was having that brave person bringing me the trophy on that drone. It was a fun end to another very fun Sunday."
Meanwhile, Waterford's Seamus Power finished well out of contention at the Shriners Open in Las Vegas yesterday, ending up tied 41st after a one-over-par 72 on the last day of the competition in TPC Summerlin.