Harrington breaks European hoodoo with US PGA Championship victory

Other News Materials 11 August 2008 06:44 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Irishman Padraig Harrington became the first European to win the US PGA Championship in 78 years on Sunday when he produced an incredible exhibition of clutch putting to edge out Spaniard Sergio Garcia and American Ben Curtis.

The 36-year-old, who won his second straight Open title at Royal Birkdale last month, carded a brilliant 4-under-par 66 in the final round under the most intense pressure to come from four shots back and win his third major.

A nerveless par at the last hole meant that Harrington finished two shots clear of Garcia, who fired a 2-under-par 68, and Curtis, who led by one going into the final round but shot a 2-over-par 72.

"It is totally different to the Open. I was very confident in the Open," Harrington said, after making it three major victories in the last six.

"Here I hit some of the wildest golf shots ever hit on a golf course on Friday. In the end it was a lot of sheer willpower."

Garcia was left to reflect on another near-miss in a major.

"If a couple of things had gone differently, we would have been talking differently," he said. "But they went Padraig's way, not mine.

"The good thing about it is I felt good out there. I definitely feel like I played well enough to win but unfortunately it didn't happen. The only thing I can do is go back home with my head up high and keep working on it."

The rain of Saturday meant that the leaders had to play 36 holes in a day, and Curtis moved to the head of affairs on 2-under-par after round three thanks to a 68, despite a bogey at the last.

He was one clear of American JB Holmes and Swede Henrik Stenson, with Garcia, after a 69 and Harrington, after a stunning 66, both on 1-over-par.

Once Holmes, thanks in no small part to a triple-bogey seven at the 1st hole, Stenson and Korean Charlie Wi had dropped back, it was Carnoustie 2007 all over again as Harrington and Garcia effectively went head to head.

The Spaniard, who won the Players Championship earlier in the year, had missed a putt for victory at Carnoustie but this time it looked like he would triumph as a brilliant birdie-eagle start and another birdie at the 6th hole took him to 3-under-par.

With others faltering, he moved two shots clear through 11 holes, but his failure to birdie the par-five 12th let Harrington in and the Irishman birdied that and the next to tie the lead.

Garcia regained the lead at 14 when Harrington bogeyed but in the end, a mistake by Garcia at the par-four 16th hole proved crucial.

Having hit the perfect drive, the Spaniard's second drifted further right than it was intended and fell short and into the water surrounding the green.

Harrington over-adjusted by pulling his second to the greenside bunker and then splashed out to about 18 feet from the hole.

Garcia recovered superbly and played a beautiful chip from the drop zone to five feet to put the pressure on Harrington but the Open champion sank his putt to stay ahead. Garcia holed his but the pair were level at 2-under-par.

Both players hit superb tee-shots into the par-three 17th, but Harrington holed from 15 feet and Garcia shaved the hole with his birdie effort to fall one behind.

When Harrington found the bunker from the tee at 18, Garcia's hopes were raised again.

The Irishman then found the rough with his second, while Garcia hit the greenside bunker with his. The Spaniard splashed out to about 15 feet, while Harrington hit a superb chip to about the same distance. The pressure was on Harrington but he drained his par putt and clenched his fist in celebration.

That meant Garcia could not win and he missed his par attempt to fall back into a share of second with Curtis, who had reached 3- under-par through 14 holes only to bogey 15 and 17 before a par at the last.