Backspin: Harrington's the toast of Ireland

Backspin: Harrington’s the toast of Ireland

<strong>LORENA OCHOA</strong> overtook Sarah Lee to win the Sybase Classic at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J. It was Ochoa's first successful title defense and her first win since rising to No. 1 in the Rolex Ranking.
Mel Evans/AP

PADRAIG HARRINGTON erased 25 years of national frustration on Sunday but also moved a step closer to becoming the best player never to have won a major. Harrington (below) is the first native son to win the Irish Open since John O’Leary in 1982. Harrington, 35, won by parring the first playoff hole after he and Bradley Dredge tied over 72 holes at five-under 283 at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, in Limerick. The No. 11-ranked player in the world, Harrington has now been victorious twice on the PGA Tour and 12 times in Europe, where he also won the money title last year. “I’ve always said that after the four majors, this is the next event I’ve wanted to win,”Harrington said. Well, one down, four to go, and the clock’s ticking, Paddy.

LET THE battlefield-promotion talk begin. Nick Flanagan, the 2003 U.S. Amateur champ from New South Wales, Australia, won the Nationwide tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am. Four weeks ago Flanagan won the Henrico County Open, meaning that one more W will send him directly to the PGA Tour, a feat last accomplished by Jason Gore in 2005. For Flanagan, 22, the big difference in his play recently has been his ability to close — his final-round scoring average has dropped from 71.06 in 2006 to 70.50 this year. At the BMW, Flanagan shot a 65 on Sunday to overcome a four-stroke deficit.

WHEN 15-YEAR-OLD Ryo Ishikawa won last week’s Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, on the Japan tour, the high school freshman became the youngest winner of a men’s pro event in that country’s history. The previous record was held by Seve Ballesteros, who won the 1977 Japan Open at age 20 … Celebrated amateur Esther Choe (Junior Survey, G13) has decided not to attend Arizona in the fall. Instead, the 17-year-old Choe will most likely turn pro after the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August.

LOCAL QUALIFYING for the U.S. Open wrapped up on May 19, and 17-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii, who at the Sony Open became the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour in 50 years, made it through the first round. But there is no sectional qualifier in Hawaii, which means that the closest location available is in
Marietta, Calif., on June 4. That date doesn’t work for Fujikawa, so instead he’ll fly to Japan to play for one of three spots available there on May 28 … Arnold
Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders failed to advance to the sectionals when he lost a playoff, but other family members of notable golf personalities did move on. Phil Mickelson’s brother, Tim, and Camilo Villegas’s brother, Manuel, each advanced. Likewise, Peter Uihlein, son of Acushnet chairman and CEO Wally, and Matt Weibring, son of D.A., also got through. Our favorite of those who are sectionalsbound? Mike Van Sickle, son of SI senior writer Gary.


For Sale

Enjoy some rarefied air in the club-rich surrounds of New York City

WHAT Somers Pointe Golf Club
WHERE Somers, N.Y.
COST $11.5 million
HOOK This 27-hole facility designed by Geoffrey Cornish had a $400,000 face-lift in 2004 and was named Best Private Course in Westchester by Westchester magazine in 2005. That’s saying something in a county that includes Winged Foot, Westchester, Quaker Ridge, Metropolis, Wykagyl and Hudson National, to name a few.
FRINGE BENEFIT It contains one of the highest points in Westchester (695 feet above sea level), so you can look down on all those other famous clubs.