(AP) — A memorable year for Padraig Harrington includes becoming the first European in more than a century to win successive titles at the British Open, and his victory at the PGA Championship made him the only European to win consecutive majors in the same season.
The final act won’t be so easy.
Harrington goes into the season-ending Volvo Masters needing to finish no worse than second to have any hope of capturing the Order of Merit on the European tour for the second time.
Robert Karlsson of Sweden seized the lead with consecutive victories and a tie for third in Portugal, giving him a lead of about $370,000 going into Valderrama. He would be the first Swede to win the Harry Vardon Trophy.
Lee Westwood, who won the Order of Merit in 2000, is about $580,000 behind and would have to win the Volvo Masters. Miguel Angel Jimenez ($842,000 behind) also is mathematically in the hunt.
This will be the final year of the Volvo Masters, which has produced plenty of dramatic moments at Valderrama. The 2009 season, which starts next week in China, next year will conclude in the desert with the Race to Dubai.