SINKING a monster 24-foot birdie putt at nine completely changed the complexion of Padraig Harrington's final round at The Travelers.
After bogeys on three of the first five holes at TPC River Highlands yesterday, the wayward Dubliner seemed to be headed for a nightmare finish. Yet that birdie helped Harrington get his act together and he landed three more at 11, 15 and 16 for a one-under-par 69. He was tied 64th in the clubhouse on four-under as he left Crowell, Connecticut.
Harrington's next outing will be next week's Scottish Open at the new Castle Stewart golf links in Inverness, his final warm-up for the British Open at Royal St George's in a fortnight's time.
Alan Dunbar was pipped at the post in his bid to become the second Irishman in three years to lift the Brabazon Trophy at Burnham and Berrow yesterday.
The 22-year-old Rathmore man appeared to be out of contention following a disappointing 79 on Saturday -- but he moved into top gear on the final day to card an impressive 69 and come within a whisker of becoming English Amateur Open stroke-play champion.
But 25-year-old Neil Raymond of Corhampton, Southampton, kept his nerve in the closing holes after a few hiccups to post a 75 and finish on 287 -- three-over par -- just one stroke clear of Dunbar and Nuneaton's Andy Sullivan.
"I am pleased with my overall performance. It was just a pity about the Saturday score," said Dunbar.
Mourne's Reeve Whitson was joint 14th on 295 while Aaron Kearney of Castlerock ended on 302. Paul Cutler and John Greene were both a further stroke adrift.
Colm Moriarty banked €2,457 in a tie for 19th on six-under at the Scottish Hydro Challenge. A level-par 71 at Macdonald Spey Valley left the Glasson man seven behind French winner Edouard Dubois, who closed with a 69.