Sports

Harrington repeats; Shark bit late again

SOUTHPORT, England — Padraig Harrington enjoys few moments more than the walk down the 18th fairway of a century-old links course, especially with a four-shot lead in the British Open and the engraver putting the final touches on the oldest trophy in golf.

He stopped Sunday to share the moment with Greg Norman, who knows this path all too well.

Celebration for one, sympathy for the other.

”I did say to him coming down 18 that I was sorry it wasn't his story that was going to be told,“ Harrington said. ”I did feel that, but I wanted to win myself. In this game, you have to take your chances when you get them.“

Harrington seized his opportunity by smashing a pair of fairway metals into the par 5s that carried him to a 32 on the back nine of blustery Royal Birkdale and made him Europe's first player in more than a century to win the British Open two years in a row.

”Obviously, winning a major puts you in a special club,“ Harrington said after closing with a 1-under 69 to win by four shots over Ian Poulter. ”Winning two of them puts you in a new club altogether.“

Norman got a chance no one saw coming.

Still on his honeymoon with tennis great Chris Evert, at 53 only a part-time golfer with no expectations, the Shark found himself with a two-shot lead going into the final round and still one shot ahead with nine holes to play.

It ended like so many other majors for Norman — a quick succession of bogeys, the clutch shots belonging to someone else. He made eight bogeys in gusts that reached 40 mph, closed with a 77 and tied for third.

”Where does it rank in those? Probably not as high as some of the other ones,“ Norman said of the six other times he lost a 54-hole lead in a major. ”Quite honestly, I'm sure I surprised a lot of people.“

So did Harrington.

The 36-year-old Irishman injured his right wrist eight days ago, and it was so sore that he could practice for only nine holes on Tuesday and for three swings on the eve of his title defense.

He gave himself a 75 percent chance of starting, 50 percent of finishing.

Turns out that wrist was strong enough to hit all the right shots. Better yet, it was strong enough to lift the claret jug.

”It was a great distraction for me,“ Harrington said. ”The fact that I didn't play three practice rounds like normal for a major was a big bonus. I was very fresh going into the weekend, and this 36 holes was a real battle.“

Harrington first had to take the lead from Norman, which he did on the par-3 12th when Norman missed a 10-foot par putt. Then came a late charge from Poulter, who made a 15-foot birdie on the 16th and saved par with a 15-footer on the final hole for a 69 that looked as though it might be good enough to win.

But the Irishman responded with clutch shots of his own. He hit a 3-wood into the wind to 40 feet on the par-5 15th and got down in two putts for birdie, giving him a two-shot lead. Standing in the 17th fairway, still aware that Norman could make eagle and stay in the game, Harrington hit a 5-wood that bounded onto the green and up the ridge, stopping 4 feet away for eagle.

That gave him a four-shot lead, and he knew it was over when his tee shot found the 18th fairway.

What a change from last year at Carnoustie, when Harrington made double bogey on the 18th hole and got into a playoff only when Sergio Garcia couldn't save par.

Harrington finished at 3-over 283, becoming the first European since James Braid in 1905-06 to win the Open in successive years. It was his first victory since the British Open last year.

”I'm quite enjoying this,“ Harrington said, cradling the claret jug. ”I don't think I'll get down off the stage.“

Norman played a familiar role as the tragic figure.

He lost his two-shot lead after the third hole and wound up in a tie for third with Henrik Stenson, who shot 71. The 77 was one shot better than the last time Norman led a major, closing with a 78 in the 1996 Masters.

”I walk away from here disappointed, but with my head held high, because I hung in there,“ Norman said.

Poulter said he thought could bring England its first British Open since Nick Faldo in 1992, playing bogey-free over his final 15 holes. He went to the practice range in case of a playoff but put his clubs away when he saw that Harrington made eagle on the 17th hole.

”I can only do what I can do,“ Poulter said. ”And I done my best.“

Wood won't follow Rose's path

Chris Wood became the latest amateur to find success at Royal Birkdale, a decade after Justin Rose's spectacular chip on the 72nd hole gave him a share of fourth at the British Open.

Wood survived getting stuck in a bunker to finish in a tie for fifth Sunday, showing signs he has the potential to follow his fellow Englishman into the pro ranks.

Just not yet. Unlike Rose, who was 17 when he had his eye-catching finish in 1998, turned pro a day later and then went 21 tournaments without making a cut, Wood isn't rushing into things.

”Not at the moment, no,“ the 20-year-old said after his 2-over 72 left him at 10 over for the tournament, seven behind winner Padraig Harrington. ”I'm having a week off.“

The gangly 6-foot-5 Wood played soccer when he was growing up but gave up thoughts of becoming a star after a serious knee injury.

”I couldn't play for ages, lost interest in football and obviously had a lot more time to practice my golf,“ he said. ”Every year I've improved so far.“

Wood was awarded the silver medal as the leading amateur finisher, and clearly wasn't comfortable with all the extra attention.

”I don't know what to say, to be honest,“ he said. ”I haven't had time to think about anything at the moment.“

Wood started the week with just his family and friends watching him play, and his father, Richard, carrying his bag. Like Rose, he chipped in on his last hole for an even-par 70, although his shot was in round two.

”It's been the best week of my life,“ he said. ”The support I've had from my family, my friends, my coach, my trainer drove up this morning. Everyone at my golf club has just been overwhelming this week, and I expect I won a few more over in the crowd.“

Harrington +3

Poulter +7

Stenson +9

Norman +9

Furyk +10

Wood +10e_SClBOthers

Els +12

Curtis +12

Choi +13

Mickelson +14

Garcia +17

H o le 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot. To

Par 4 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 34 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 5 4 36 70 par

Greg Norman 5 4 5 3 4 5 3 3 4 36 6 4 3 4 2 5 4 4 4 36 72 +2

Padraig Harrington4 5 4 3 3 4 2 5 4 34 4 5 5 4 3 4 5 4 4 38 72 +4

K.J. Choi4 4 4 3 4 6 3 5 4 37 6 4 3 3 3 6 4 5 4 38 75 +4

Simon Wakefield 4 4 4 4 4 5 3 4 4 36 4 4 2 5 2 5 4 4 4 34 70 +5

Ben Curtis 4 4 2 3 3 5 2 4 4 31 4 5 4 5 3 5 4 5 4 39 70 +7

Anthony Kim4 4 5 4 4 5 3 4 4 37 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 3 4 34 71 +7

David Duval 7 5 5 4 4 6 4 5 4 44 5 4 4 4 3 5 4 5 5 39 83 +15

H o le 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot. To

Par 4 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 34 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 5 4 36 70 par

Greg Norman 5 4 5 3 4 5 3 3 4 36 6 4 3 4 2 5 4 4 4 36 72 +2

Padraig Harrington4 5 4 3 3 4 2 5 4 34 4 5 5 4 3 4 5 4 4 38 72 +4

K.J. Choi4 4 4 3 4 6 3 5 4 37 6 4 3 3 3 6 4 5 4 38 75 +4

Simon Wakefield 4 4 4 4 4 5 3 4 4 36 4 4 2 5 2 5 4 4 4 34 70 +5

Ben Curtis 4 4 2 3 3 5 2 4 4 31 4 5 4 5 3 5 4 5 4 39 70 +7

Anthony Kim4 4 5 4 4 5 3 4 4 37 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 3 4 34 71 +7

David Duval 7 5 5 4 4 6 4 5 4 44 5 4 4 4 3 5 4 5 5 39 83 +15

H o le 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot. To

Par 4 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 34 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 5 4 36 70 par

Greg Norman 5 4 5 3 4 5 3 3 4 36 6 4 3 4 2 5 4 4 4 36 72 +2

Padraig Harrington4 5 4 3 3 4 2 5 4 34 4 5 5 4 3 4 5 4 4 38 72 +4

K.J. Choi4 4 4 3 4 6 3 5 4 37 6 4 3 3 3 6 4 5 4 38 75 +4

Simon Wakefield 4 4 4 4 4 5 3 4 4 36 4 4 2 5 2 5 4 4 4 34 70 +5

Ben Curtis 4 4 2 3 3 5 2 4 4 31 4 5 4 5 3 5 4 5 4 39 70 +7

Anthony Kim4 4 5 4 4 5 3 4 4 37 4 4 3 4 3 5 4 3 4 34 71 +7

David Duval 7 5 5 4 4 6 4 5 4 44 5 4 4 4 3 5 4 5 5 39 83 +15

  Comments