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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020
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Pádraig, you beauty! Harrington surges to first European Tour victory since 2008

The three-time Major winner tastes his first success of the year.

Image: The European Tour/Twitter

EVERY SO OFTEN, just when the doubts begin to resurface and a performance is required, Pádraig Harrington provides a timely reminder for us all.

This afternoon, he held his nerve in a thrilling finale to win a first European Tour event in eight years at the Portugal Masters; Harrington on song on a Sunday is as good a sporting sight as any.

Six birdies on a blemish-free card saw him overhaul defending champion Andy Sullivan to record the sweetest of victories on the Algarve, his 15th on the European Tour.

By doing so, he tastes success for the first time since winning the Honda Classic in March 2015.

Despite the frustrations of recent years, Harrington still knows how to win and he demonstrated that this week; the swagger was back, that look in his eyes, the magic in his putter and the spring in his step.

He needed it all on the 18th hole.

After surging into a one-shot lead with an inspired back nine, the three-time Major winner needed an up-and-down to seal the deal.

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His second, from the rough on the right hand side, cannoned off the stand at the back of a green and fell into a pocket of long grass. He played the chip exqusitely and held the six-footer back up the hill to claim a one-shot victory.

It capped a bogey-free round of 65 and a near flawless week of golf from the 45-year-old, who could now move him back inside the top 100 of the world rankings from 159th position.

He began the day one off the lead, which was held by Anders Hansen and Mikko Korhonen. Birdies on the second and seventh before the turn ensured he kept in touch with Sullivan who had surged into control with four birdies in five holes.

Harrington, who had signed for rounds of 66, 63 and 67 this week, was simmering and it was down the home stretch that his challenge ignited. The turning point came on 11.

A poor approach shot to the par four left him in danger of falling adrift, but Harrington produced a touch of class to play a delightful chip from the bunker, which rolled into the centre of the cup for an unlikely, but crucial, birdie.

From there, he stamped his authority on the leaderboard. Further birdies on 12 and 14 saw Harrington leapfrog Sullivan and a saved par on 16 ensured the Irishman held the momentum down the back straight.

Sullivan, to his credit, wasn’t prepared to roll over and found a birdie of his own on 17 to sit level as he looked to defend the title he won 12 months ago.

But there was to be no stopping Harrington. When others laid up on the par five 17th, he pushed for victory and was rewarded with a straight-forward birdie to regain the lead; one he wasn’t prepared to squander.

The smile and fist pump on 18 said it all. The drought is over, Pádraig Harrington is back to winning ways.

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Ryan Bailey

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