Golf

Padraig Harrington gets back to winning ways at Portugal Masters

Padraig Harrington was delighted to claim his first European Tour title in eight years in the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura
Padraig Harrington was delighted to claim his first European Tour title in eight years in the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura Padraig Harrington was delighted to claim his first European Tour title in eight years in the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura

Padraig Harrington produced a closing bogey-free 65 to win his first European Tour title in eight years at the Portugal Masters.

The Dubliner came into the final day in Vilamoura trailing overnight leaders Anders Hansen and Mikko Korhonen by a shot but it was defending champion Andy Sullivan who emerged as his nearest challenger.

Sullivan won the event by nine shots last season and made a big charge once again, picking up birdies on four of his first five holes on his way to a 22-under par total.

Harrington found himself three shots off the lead at one point but after turning in 33, a holed bunker shot on the 11th sparked a run of three birdies in four holes to move him ahead.

Sullivan joined him at the summit with a birdie on the 17th but Harrington repeated the feat on the par five and held his nerve down the last after getting a fortunate bounce off a spectator gallery.

The win is Harrington’s 15th on the European Tour and his first since he won his third major at the US PGA Championship in 2008. His last win on the PGA Tour came at the Honda Classic in March last year.

“I haven’t won yet this year, so I know the year is nearly done, it’s always important to get a win every year, a winning year,” he told www.europeantour.com.

“It’s a big win. Portugal Masters is a big tournament. I’ve been coming here for 10 years so I’ve always liked it down here. I’ve always liked coming down to Portugal.

“I tried to be really aggressive. The golf course suited me and I just tried to go after every pin I could and make birdies. I have a pretty good short game that was on form this week.”

Semi-retired Dane Anders Hansen and Finn Mikko Korhonen were tied for third at 21-under, with English duo Robert Rock and Chris Paisley, and Scot Paul Lawrie in the group a further shot back.

This was the final week for players to get into the top 111 in the Race to Dubai and keep their cards for next season, with Korhonen, England’s Oliver Fisher and Australian Jason Scrivener knocking England’s Eddie Pepperell, Scot Craig Lee and South African Zander Lombard out of a spot.

Justin Thomas produced a final round of 64 to retain the CIMB Classic title in Malaysia.

The American had looked to be slipping from the lead when he dropped four shots in three holes straight after the turn in Saturday’s third round, but he finished the day with five straight birdies and added another eight in an unblemished final round to finish on 23-under par and win by three strokes from Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

Derek Fathauer and Anirban Lahiri shared third on 19-under with Marc Leishman rounding out the top five, but the day belonged to Thomas.

He birdied the first and added three in succession from the third, including a wonderful tee shot to within four feet at the 136-yard par-three third.

Another tremendous approach set up a fifth birdie of the day to complete his front nine and he added another at the 10th before almost holing his approach at 16.

That led to a birdie and another followed at the next as he closed out victory in style – emulating the achievement of Ryan Moore in 2013 and 2014 with back-to-back triumphs in Kuala Lumpur.

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Scotland’s Russell Knox were the leading Europeans, in a seven-way tie for 10th on 13-under, one shot ahead of England’s Ian Poulter and Cabrera-Bello’s compatriot and Ryder Cup playing partner Sergio Garcia.