John Daly returned to winning form, six years after his last success in the Open Championship at St.Andrews, by capturing the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Nord, Eichenried, after a thrilling duel with Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.
Daly, 35, birdied the final hole to claim the title with a remarkable 27 under par aggregate of 261 which, had it not been for preferred lies on Saturday, would have tied the lowest total in the history of The European Tour.
The American shot rounds of 63-64-68-66 to Harrington’s 69-63-62-68 as the principals surged clear of a high quality field over four days of competition made even more intense by the fact that it signified the conclusion of the European Ryder Cup points chase.
Thomas Levet of France finished in third, a superb perfomance by the Victor Chandler British Masters winner who arrived in the German city knowing that he had to lift the title in order to qualify automatically for the European team.
The same applied to Dean Robertson, who tied for fourth with Christopher Hanell and Raymond Russell, while Sergio Garcia’s late attempt to make the team under his own steam came up just short of the victory he required. The Spaniard finished in a tie for seventh alongside promising youngsters Paul Casey and Justin Rose of England.
Daly, though, triumphed in Europe for a second time, albeit six years after his initial success, after Harrington had found water with his second shot at the 72nd hole and produced a wonderful up and down to save par.
Although he missed the green on the safe side, Daly chipped virtually stone dead from the left fringe for a winning birdie and a round of 66 to Harrington’s 68.
He said: “It’s been a long six years and it just feels good to win again. I think 1999 was probably the low point in between times. That was the turning points, when it had to decide whether to keep going forward or do something else. It was a very short thought, because I wanted to keep playing golf. I started practising a lot more and being more focused about trying to turn it around.”
Harrington, who finished runner-up for the sixth time this season, found it difficult to swallow that he had shot 26 under par and not captured his first title of the year. In fact, he emulated his performance of 1999 when he finished second behind Colin Montgomerie.
"Obviously at the start of the week I would have taken 26 under par but I knew after six or seven holes it was going to be a long day. I don't seem to be able to stumble into a win no matter what I do t the moment."
Levet, who took outright third, commented: "I tried my best and to shoot my lowest ever total of 20 under par was a good effort. But John and Padraig absolutely killd the course. I was close but it came a bit too late."