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Harrington tops Garcia for British Open title

Harrington tops Garcia for British Open title

Harrington tops Garcia for British Open title
July 22nd, 2007

Carnoustie, Scotland (Sports Network) - Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff on Sunday to earn his first major at the British Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Harrington took the aggregate, four-hole playoff 15-16.

This was the first major championship for Harrington, who became the first European to win a major since Paul Lawrie titled here in 1999.

Harrington took a commanding lead right away in the playoff. At the first, he hit his approach to eight feet, while Garcia drove into the right rough, then found the front bunker.

Garcia blasted out to 12 feet and missed the putt. Harrington sank his birdie try to lead, 3-5. Both parred the par-three 16th to allow Harrington to maintain his two-shot lead.

Harrington continued his fine form at the 17th. He found the fairway off the tee then hit a sensational approach to six feet. Garcia also landed in the short grass, but his second stopped 30 feet left of the stick.

Garcia narrowly missed his birdie effort, opening the door for Harrington to take a huge lead. The Irishman came up short with his birdie try and the lead was two shots on the 18th tee.

Harrington, who hit a driver into the burn en route to a double-bogey at 18 in regulation, pulled a hybrid-club in the playoff and found the fairway. His ball did not get much roll, leaving him a long second shot.

Garcia hit driver and ended up in the left rough. Harrington laid up before Garcia's second rolled to 28 feet. Harrington's third fell outside of Garcia, giving the Spaniard some hope.

Garcia just missed his birdie putt, and his par chance was farther than Harrington's bogey putt. Garcia made his, then Harrington followed him for the claret jug.

The conclusion in regulation conjured up the ghost of Jean van de Velde from 1999.

The last time Carnoustie hosted the Open Championship, Van de Velde squandered a three-shot lead on the 18th hole. He lost to Paul Lawrie in a playoff and both competitors in this year's extra session made a mess of 18 as well.

Harrington came to the 18th hole with a one-shot lead over Garcia and his drive bounced twice on a bridge and fell into the burn. After a drop, Harrington hit his second into the burn short of the green on the left and dropped another one.

Harrington hit his fifth shot four feet past the hole and sank the double- bogey putt to post seven-under par.

Garcia now had a one-shot lead and hit an iron down the fairway at 18. He waited for several minutes as the raker had to tend to the traps that both Chris DiMarco and Paul McGinley found in the group before.

Garcia's second found a bunker short and left. He blasted out to six feet and had that putt to win his first major championship.

Garcia missed the putt and then headed to the four-hole playoff, tied at seven-under-par 277.

Harrington fired a four-under 67 on Sunday, while Garcia managed a two-over 73.

Harrington earned his 12th European Tour win and his third PGA Tour victory.

Andres Romero held a two-shot lead on the back nine Sunday, but double-bogeyed 17 and bogeyed 18. Over his final 11 holes, Romero collected seven birdies, two double-bogeys, and two bogeys and finished alone in third place in only his third major at minus-six.

Richard Green matched the Open Championship record at Carnoustie with a seven- under 64 on Sunday. He tied for fourth with 2002 winner Ernie Els, who shot a two-under 69, at five-under-par 279.

Tiger Woods never mounted a charge on Sunday. He shot a one-under 70 and tied for 12th place in his bid to become the first player to win three straight claret jugs since Peter Thomson from 1954-56.

"The golf course, it kicked my butt this week," said Woods. "I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be all week. I thought I was putting great, but I couldn't get myself close enough all week."

The back nine on Sunday was a wild scene. Three different players traded the lead and on some holes, there were four-shot swings.

Garcia began the final round with a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker.

Garcia let everyone back into the mix, starting with a bogey at the fifth. He had a five-foot birdie look at the sixth, but blew that putt four feet past. Garcia made that putt, but Stricker missed a birdie try from three feet to try and close the gap. That failed attempt was similar to the third when Stricker failed to capitalize from a similar length.

Garcia's second at seven went through the green and the Spaniard did not hit his chip hard enough. He left himself with 12 feet for par and missed that putt to drop to minus-eight for the championship.

Romero holed out from a bunker at 11 to get to minus-seven. Garcia's tee ball at the par-three eighth missed right and he chipped to eight feet. The leader after each of the first three rounds missed that putt to fall into a tie with Romero at seven-under par.

Romero might have felt some pressure being in a tie for the lead at that point. His second at the 12th went well right of target and landed in a gorse bush. Romero took an unplayable and made double-bogey to fall two back.

Els and Harrington only trailed by one at that point. Els, the winner of this title in 2002, tallied three birdies on his front nine to reach six-under par.

Harrington rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at nine to get to minus-six, then stuffed his approach to three feet to set up a birdie at 11 that tied him with Garcia at seven-under par.

Romero atoned for his error at 12 with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 13th and was within one of the lead. Garcia knocked his approach to four feet to set up birdie at 10, but left the putt short.

Romero continued his rebound with a seven-foot birdie putt at 14 to join Harrington and Garcia in the lead. Els sank a clutch seven-footer for par 12 and stayed within one.

Harrington's 25-foot birdie try for the lead at 12 horseshoed out of the hole. Els could not make another par save at 13, so he fell two behind the trio at minus-seven.

The amazing run of Romero continued at 15, where he drained a 15-foot birdie putt to take the lead at minus-eight. At the par-three 16th, Romero hit a spectacular three-iron 20 feet short of the stick and converted that birdie putt to reach nine-under par and go two clear.

The next turn of events in the crazy final round came when Romero made a horrible decision to hit a two-iron out of the rough on 16. His ball went out of bounds and he walked off with a double-bogey to drop to minus-seven.

Harrington's second at 14 headed left, but bounced to 20 feet. He sank the eagle putt to move to nine-under par, one clear of Garcia. The Spaniard answered with a nine-footer for birdie at 14 and the pair was knotted at minus-nine.

Romero fell out of the race with a bogey at 18, essentially making it a two- player race.

Harrington hit a spectacular tee shot to the 250-yard, par-three 16th, however his six-footer stayed above ground. Garcia could not save par at the 15th when he hit an iron off the tee and left himself 268 yards to the flag at the par- four hole.

Garcia fell one back and hit an indifferent shot into the 16th green. His ball stopped short and left and he putted up to two feet. Garcia made par, but had a stroke to make up on the final two holes.

That's when both fell apart on 18 and Harrington prevailed in the playoff.

Stewart Cink (70) and Hunter Mahan (65) shared sixth at minus-four.

Ben Curtis, the 2003 champion, posted a six-under 65 and tied for eighth place with Mike Weir (70), K.J. Choi (71) and the player who began the final round in second, Steve Stricker (74). That group came in at minus-three.

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