Padraig Harrington got his 2003 season off to the perfect start when he held off the challenge of India’s Jyoti Randhawa to win the BMW Asian Open at Ta Shee Golf and Country Club, Taiwan.
Harrington captured the opening event of The 2003 European Tour International Schedule with a final round of 69 for a 15 under par total of 273, one clear of Randhawa who made a late charge with a final round of 64. Victory earned Harrington his sixth European Tour title and earned him €247,967 (£158,328).
“It’s great and finally, European Number One,” said Harrington, who has finished second to Retief Goosen in the Volvo Order of Merit the last two seasons. “It’s nice to start like this and it’s always good when you win. I’m happy as I came here to win the BMW Asian Open. Last season, I played badly in the last three events because I
was trying to win the Volvo Order of Merit and was not focussed enough to win the individual events. This week, I came out here just looking to win this and thankfully, I did it.”
The Irishman started the final round one stroke adrift of Maarten Lafeber but Harrington quickly overtook the Dutchman with four birdies in his first seven holes to pull clear of the field.
But with three holes to play and a two-shot cushion in hand, Harrington gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope, first driving in the water on the 16th but saved his par by holing and eight foot putt. On the 17th, he missed the green and chipped poorly to drop a second bogey and endured anxious moments at the par three 18th hole when his tee shot missed the green. His chip finished ten feet short but he holed the putt confidently, clenching his fist with delight when the ball disappeared into the cup.
“In the last couple of holes, I was thinking that pars would be good enough and obviously, when you get into that frame of mind, you struggle to make pars. I had a tough lie on the 18th and then I had to putt through a
double-break. It was good to hole that putt,” said Harrington.
Harrington’s closest challenge came from Jyoti Randhawa, who rediscovered the form that gave him the first-round lead to fire a flawless, eight under par 64 for a 14 under total of 274.
The 30-year-old Randhawa started the day seven off the pace but got off to a blistering start by reeling in four birdies in the opening six holes. He moved to 14-under for the tournament after 15 holes with birdies on 10, 11,
13 and 15 but failed to catch Harrington.
“I’m certainly pleased with this 64. I could have easily made two more birdies on the back nine but missed four-foot putts. They were so close. I guess I just got a bit excited and the pressure got to me a bit. I felt I had a chance to catch up if I could get a few more birdies but I guess I just jumped the gun and missed two small ones. Otherwise, I would have been right up there,” said Randhawa.
Third round leader Lafeber finished three shots back on 12 under par 276 after a 73 alongside Trevor Immelman and American Andrew Pitts.
The win continued an excellent year for the consistent Harrington, who also won the dunhill links championship, and gave him the perfect start to the 2003 Order of Merit, with this event being the first counting event.