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Friday, 19 March 2010
Ireland's Padraig Harrington has won The Open Championship for the second year in succession in superb style on a windswept final day at Royal Birkdale.

Harrington carded a closing round of 69 for a three over total of 283, finishing four shots clear of Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter to become the first European to successfully defend the title since James Braid in 1906.

Poulter covered the last ten holes in three under par despite winds gusting up to 35mph, holing from 15 feet for par on the 18th to set what looked a daunting clubhouse target on seven over.

That left Harrington needing to cover the last four holes in level par, but the 36 year old Dubliner - doubtful before the start with an injury to his right wrist - put the result beyond doubt with a birdie on the 15th and an eagle from just four feet on the 17th to seal a memorable triumph.

The €1,106,617 first prize secures Harrington's place in The Ryder Cup in September and takes him from 14th to a career-high third in the world rankings.

Overnight leader Greg Norman (77) finished joint third with Sweden's Henrik Stenson on nine over while English amateur Chris Wood evoked memories of Justin Rose's fourth place finish as a 17 year old amateur here in 1998, challenging for the lead before finishing in joint fifth - winning the silver medal for leading amateur.

Harrington trailed Norman by two shots at the start of the day but was one ahead after just three holes as the 53 year old Australian - looking to become the oldest ever major winner by five years - began with a hat-trick of bogeys.

Another bogey on the sixth meant Harrington was two clear, but The Ryder Cup star then stumbled with three straight bogeys of his own to fall one behind his playing partner at the turn.

As Norman continued to struggle it was Poulter who emerged as Harrington's biggest rival, birdies at the ninth and 11th taking him within a shot of the lead.

The 32 year old crucially missed from four feet for another birdie on the 13th however and, after a birdie putt on the 16th dropped in on its last roll, three-putted the par-five 17th for par.

As that happened Harrington holed from 18 feet for a birdie on the 13th to take the outright lead again, a lead he was never to lose.

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