Padraig Harrington birdied the final hole in regulation play then produced another birdie at the second hole of sudden-death to beat Eduardo Romero and capture the €818,661 (£514,535) first prize in the dunhill links championship at St Andrews.
Harrington and Romero had finished tied on 269, 19 under par, after sinking a dramatic 18 foot birdie putt on the sun drenched 18th hole on the Old Course for a closing round of 69. Romero then missed his own eight foot birdie attempt to add the massive dunhill links trophy to The Barclays Scottish Open title he won in Scotland in July.
After the first hole was halved in par fours, Romero appeared to be favourite when his second shot to the second finished four feet from the flag with Harrington 8 feet away. However the Irishman’s putter again proved his salvation as he holed for a birdie three while Romero pushed his birdie effort.
Victory was doubly sweet for Harrington as he and fellow Irishman, race horse owner JP McManus, claimed the team event with a 37 under par score, finishing six strokes ahead of Romero and his partner, Edinburgh lawyer Neil Crichton.
It was Harrington’s fifth title on The European Tour International Schedule and his first play-off victory at the fourth attempt. It propelled the 31 year old Ryder Cup player into the thick of the battle for this year’s Volvo Order of Merit. He remains in third place behind Retief Goosen and Ernie Els – who withdrew on Sunday morning due to the birth of his baby son – but there is little between the ‘big three’ going into the final month of the season.
Reflecting on his first victory of the year Harrington said "Even through I was a stroke behind with two to play I was feeling positive and I made couple of great putts, first to get into the play-off and second to win. These last two weeks have easily been the best back-to-back weeks in my life, even if I had finished last here that would still have been the case. This week was rounded off perfectly by completing the double in winning the team event with J.P. (Macmanus)"
Colin Montgomerie, one week after spearheading Europe’s charge to victory in The Ryder Cup, displayed more of his Sunday afternoon brilliance with a course record equalling 63, nine under par, which included a bogey five at the last where the Scot three putted from the Valley of Sin.
Montgomerie finished tied for third place on 281 with fellow Scot Sandy Lyle, who closed with a four under par 68, and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, who bogeyed the 16th and 17th in a round of 70.
“Of course I’m disappointed” said Montgomerie, who birdied six successive holes from the seventh. “I wanted that course record but my drive at the last landed in a seeded divot and I caught it a touch heavy. Still, I can’t complain about a 63. It’s still a very good score.”
Lyle, whose birdie putt at the 18th just toppled into the hole, earning him a cheque for €253,785 (£159,506) said: “I knew it as a big putt on the 18th, pulling level with Monty and giving myself an outside chance. It’s nice to know I can still compete at this level.”