Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, two of the all-time greats on The European Tour and outstanding Ryder Cup partners at The De Vere Belfry, provided a fitting finale to the 2002 season when they shared the Volvo Masters Andalucia at Valderrama.
At the end of a day of intense drama and excitement, when the Volvo Order of Merit was retained by Retief Goosen of South Africa, Langer and Montgomerie shook hands in pitch darkness after two holes of a sudden-death play-off had failed to separate them.
The players could have returned the following morning but eagerly accepted the offer by Ken Schofield, The European Tour’s Executive Director, to share the spoils, earning Langer his 42nd European Tour title and Montgomerie his 27th.
Langer and Montgomerie had tied on 281, three under par, after signing for scores of 67 and 70 respectively, with Bradley Dredge in third after a superb season in which he climbed from 72nd in 2001 to 18th on the Volvo Order of Merit.
The impressive Welshman needed a birdie at the last to force a three way play-off but despite a closing bogey only he, Langer and Montgomerie finished under par.
The decision to share the trophy was not unprecedented, and coincidentally the last occasion a draw was declared also involved Langer. He and Seve Ballesteros had completed four holes of a play-off for the 1986 Trophée Lancôme when darkness brought proceedings to a close in Paris. Now Langer goes into the history books as the only player to share two titles on The European Tour.
The air of tension was heightened by the fact that a play-off could not take place before Montgomerie was whisked from the recording unit at the 18th green to the television compound to view video tape of an incident at the 10th hole, where the Scot had three putted.
There had been a possibility that Montgomerie had addressed a moving ball before tapping in, which could have resulted in a two stroke penalty. However it was swiftly determined that there had been no rules infraction and both players headed for the 18th tee in the gathering gloom.
The first hole was halved in par fours after Langer two putted and Montgomerie chipped close from behind the green. The moon was glowing in the darkening skies as the two men teed off at the tenth.
This time Langer played a wonderful approach from a bare lie to 20 feet while Montgomerie’s second shot finished 12 feet away. When both birdie putts fell short, the two combatants moved on to the 18th tee once again. After a short discussion, Langer and Montgomerie shook hands and smiled broadly as they held aloft the magnificent Volvo Masters Andalucia Trophy.
Langer said: “There was no way we could continue. It was really getting ridiculous. There were two options – come back in the morning, which would have provided an anticlimax to this great championship, or share the victory as I did with Seve all those years ago. I think we both agreed it was the appropriate thing to do.”
Montgomerie added: “There was no way we could play. When Ken Schofield came on the radio with that suggestion, Bernhard very quickly took his hat off and I took mine off and we shook hands. I agree that it was very appropriate that we did share this wonderful trophy.
“Along with the Volvo PGA Championship, out flagship event, this is right up there also. It’s one of the best fields on a wonderful course. I think it’s also appropriate in Ryder Cup year, with a victory for Europe, that my partner and I should share this trophy. It’s good for the pair of us to be victorious again.”
The tournament drama tended to overshadow the other major issue of the week, the race to decide Europe's Number One golfer for 2002. In th end, Goosen clinched his second successive Volvo Order of Merit title with a 12 over par total, one shot better than his only rival for the crown going into the final event. Goosen closed with a level par round of 71 while Harrington signed for a 73 to finish on 13 over.
Goosen wound up another bountiful year with €2,360,127 (£1,481,924) to Harrington's €2,334,655 (£1,465,930).
The 33 year old Goosen becomes the first non-European to win the Volvo Order of Merit two years in a row. He said: "To have the trophy in my trophy cabinet is something special, but I'm exhausted. I've been travelling a lot and there was a point in the last couple of months when I knew I was getting tired, but knew I had to keep going."
Goosen revealed that he intends trimming some tournaments from his intense schedule next season, when he is due to become a father for the first time in March. However he believes that a hat-trick of titles is not beyond him.
He pointed out: "Luckily the Major Championships and the World Golf Championships count towards the money lists on both The European Tour and the US PGA Tour. If you play well in those events you can be right up there."
Harrington, who occupies second place on the Volvo Order of Merit for the second successive year, insisted that fatigue was not a factor for his inability to overhaul Goosen, who had led the race for much of the season.
"Obviously I'm disappointed, but it's strengthened my resolve to win it at some stage” he said, admitting his focus during the week had been on his desire to claim his first Volvo Order of Merit crown. With hindsight, the Irishman felt that had been an error.
He said: I was not playing the Volvo Masters Andalucia this week, I was trying to win the Volvo Order of Merit, which is silly. You get ahead of yourself and I was not myself the last three weeks because there was so much attention on the money list.
"But I've learnt from the experience. What's good is that there's not a part of my game I can't improve. I can improve leaps and bounds in all areas. At least Retief played a good round today. He went out and won it."
.Goosen's produced a stunning victory was the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia in January, while second places behind Tiger Woods in both the Masters Tournament at Augusta national in April and the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship at Mount Juliet in September assisted his attempt to win for a second time.
Goosen joins an elite club who have retained the Order of Merit - Colin Montgomerie, Lyle, Severiano Ballesteros, Peter Oosterhuis, Christy O'Connor and, back in the 1940s, Charlie Ward.
Montgomerie, of course, won it seven years in a row from 1993 to 1999, a staggering feat which might never be equalled.