Thursday 22 February 2018

Harrington draws on former glory as he eyes Portugal win

Padraig Harrington. Photo: Getty Images
Padraig Harrington. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

Pádraig Harrington is hoping a return to the scene of his last European Tour win at the Victoria Club in Vilamoura can inspire a return to the winner's circle.

Harrington's victory in the Portugal Masters 12 months ago was his first on the European Tour since the last of his three Major titles (the 2008 US PGA), the Dubliner's closing 65 leaving him a shot ahead of Andy Sullivan.

"Every win is important, they don't happen as often as you think they do," Harrington said. "I enjoy my wins and I make sure I celebrate them when I do win.

"It was great to win, I get about one a year. You put a lot into them, there's a lot of weeks where you're frustrated, you've lost, you maybe messed up and got it wrong, so when the wins come around you've got to make sure you do enjoy it and I take a lot from my wins."

Across the Atlantic, Jordan Spieth believes the destiny of the overall FedEx Cup title and $10 million (€8.4m) bonus could depend on who will play the Rory McIlroy role this year.

Any of the 30 players in the season-ending Tour Championship can theoretically win the massive pay day in Atlanta, but only the top five are assured of doing so by claiming the $1.53m (€1.3m) first prize at East Lake.

McIlroy, who has failed to qualify this season, was sixth in the standings 12 months ago and needed to win the Tour Championship and see FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson finish worse than outright second.

Johnson finished tied for sixth and could only look on as McIlroy defeated Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell in a play-off to become FedEx Cup champion.

"I don't know who the Rory will be," Spieth said. "It doesn't happen anywhere else. It's like having a $7m (€5.9m) bet on a fight that you're not even taking part in."

At Stoke-by-Nayland yesterday, Neil O'Briain increased his chances of claiming a European Tour card with a superb second round at the first stage qualifying school event.

The Irishman had made a solid start with 73 in the opening round but pulled out all the stops to card a three-under 68 in his second round.

He currently sits tied for 21st on 141, but as only the top 20 go through to the next phase, he needs to produce similar rounds to secure qualification. He sits seven shots behind leading duo Jamie Abbott and Philip Eriksson (134).

Brian Casey also improved on the second day as he scored 70 to sit on 144, two-over par.

The Ladies' Senior British Open Amateur Championship had to be suspended at Royal Belfast yesterday due to bad weather and will resume this morning.

Gertie McMullen had been leading the Irish charge but only managed to play three holes before the decision to suspend play was made.

Irish Independent

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