2002: Harrington’s glorious run

St. Andrews, Scotland

When can the best get even better?

If you’re Padraig Harrington, it’s when you win the Dunhill Links Championship and pocket 818,661 euros one week after helping wrest the Ryder Cup from the United States.

“This has been the greatest two weeks of my life, and would have been even if I had finished last today,” said Harrington, who is third on the Order of Merit behind Retief Goosen and Ernie Els. His victory was worth approximately $801,148.

Harrington’s European Tour triumph Oct. 6 at The Old Course might not have matched the drama of the Ryder Cup, but it did have its moments. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18, forcing a playoff when Eduardo Romero missed an 8-footer. Then the Irishman earned his first playoff victory in four attempts (and his fifth PGA European Tour title) when he sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole and Romero pushed a 4-footer.

Harrington and Romero were tied at 19-under-par 269 after 72 holes, two strokes ahead of Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh.

It was Harrington’s first European Tour victory of the season, and he had to come from behind down the stretch.

“Even though I was a stroke behind with two to play, I was feeling positive and I made a couple of great putts,” Harrington said. “I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

Montgomerie, one week after spearheading Europe’s victory in the Ryder Cup, displayed more Sunday brilliance at the Dunhill. He set the Old Course record at 63, even though he bogeyed the par-4 18th. The 63 represents the lowest score on The Old Course since it was lengthened to 7,115 yards in 1996. Paul Lawrie shot 63 in 2001, but it was playing at less than 7,115 yards.

Montgomerie birdied six consecutive holes starting at No. 7, and also birdied the famed 17th.

Lyle, 44, who tied Montgomerie and Singh by making birdie at No. 18, earned 253,785 euros – more than he has made in any year since he took home the equivalent of 605,937 euros in 1992.

“I knew it was a big putt on the 18th, pulling level with Monty and giving myself an outside chance,” said Lyle. “It’s nice to know I can still compete at this level.”

– Staff and wire reports

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