Proof Positive

Padraig Harrington Final Round British Open
Robert Beck/SI
Padraig Harrington was the first Irishman to win since 1947.
Harrington also refused to listen to the volume on the TV, saying later, "Obviously I didn't want to hear any analyzing of my 6."

His stubborn fortitude and self-belief paid dividends on the first extra hole. After splitting the fairway, he hit a 162-yard 7-iron to within 10 feet left of the pin and converted the birdie try after his opponent's failure to get up and down. Harrington wasn't about to throw away a two-shot lead twice in one day. Two pars on 16 and 17 and a cautious bogey on 18, this time with a utility wood off the tee, finished it off, but not before a tough two-putt on 18.

"I had great pace this week," he said. "I had no fear standing over 25-yard, 30-yard, 40-yard putts from off the green. I had no fear. I rolled them up stone dead.

"The only putt that probably did something I didn't expect this week was my [first] putt on the fourth hole of the playoff. I couldn't believe I hit it three feet [past the hole] ... If there's a putt I don't like it's a right-to-left. I really didn't like that [winning] putt. It was two feet too long."

Several players made a brief run at Garcia only to fall back. Ernie Els got to six under with birdies on three of his first six holes but played the remaining holes in one over and tied for fourth place. Even after missing his short birdie putt on the second hole, Stricker got to seven under with a birdie on the 4th, but he made four bogeys and no birdies the rest of the way and tied for eighth.

The wildest scorecard of the day belonged to Andres Romero, who threatened to make it an Argentine double in the U.S. and British Opens until going three over for his last two holes to finish at six under, one out of the playoff. Romero made 10 birdies in all, including six on the back nine to go along with two double-bogeys and a bogey. He would have won had he been able to avoid either the gorse bush that swallowed his approach shot after it bounced off a marshal on the par-4 12th hole or the concrete retaining wall of the Barry Burn that catapulted his second shot out of bounds on the par-4 17th. He finished third.

In the end, Harrington said it was his familiarity with links golf that won him the tournament Sunday. He played it as an amateur coming up in Dublin. He played it last weekend, when he bypassed the Scottish Open, played at the decidedly non-linksy Loch Lomond, in favor of the Irish PGA Championship at the European Club. He won that in a playoff, too.

And so, when he faced his 162-yard approach shot on the first hole of the playoff, he knew it was a 7-iron, which in the cold air and slight breeze wouldn't travel its usual 180 yards. Just like he knew, he had to tell himself he knew, that he wasn't dead after making such a horrible mess of the 18th hole.

"I wouldn't for a second say I was as comfortable today as I was, say, in the Masters at the start of the year, or the U.S. Open last year," Harrington said. "Those were real good days. Today I just worked hard and drew on all my experiences of playing links golf and honestly convinced myself I was going to win."

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