On the final four holes, it looked as if Michael Campbell was trying to lose the Smurfit European Open. Padraig Harrington just wouldn’t let him.
Despite bogeying the last four holes July 7, Campbell hung on for a one-stroke victory at The K Club.
Until the final stretch, the New Zealander had been in complete command, getting to 10 under par and taking a five-stroke lead with four holes to play. He finished with a 1-over 73 Sunday and a 6-under 282 total to claim the winner’s check of $515,584 euros (approximately $506,680).
“For 14 holes I was in a zone,” Campbell said. “I had the trophy in one hand, but not in the other. I didn’t feel at all nervous today, just a little edgy after the 15th. That was a wake-up call.
“I think my emotions got too far ahead of myself, and I made some ridiculous mistakes. Obviously, I’m elated that I won but disappointed with the way I finished.”
Campbell was tied for third after an opening-round 68, then led by one shot after each of the next two rounds. He started flawlessly Sunday, with birdies on Nos. 4, 12 and 13 before his struggles down the stretch.
Harrington, playing with Campbell, could have earned a comeback victory if not for some late troubles of his own.
Harrington, an Irishman who was cheered on by the record galleries throughout the final round, missed a 3-foot par putt at No. 17, then hit into a greenside lake at No. 18 to also finish with a final-round 73, placing him in a four-way tie for second at 5-under 283 with Retief Goosen of South Africa (68), Bradley Dredge of Wales (68) and Paul Lawrie (73) of Scotland.
Harrington birdied the par-4 15th while Campbell had bogey, cutting the five-shot lead to three. On the par-5 16th, he had a chance to cut the gap even further, as Campbell bogeyed. Harrington, going for the green in two, hit a 5-wood that the wind drifted right into the water. After a penalty drop, he still holed a 10-foot putt for par to narrow the lead to two, but he could have gotten closer.
“That was probably the worst outcome of any shot I hit all day,” Harrington said of his second shot on No. 16. “I couldn’t have hit a better shot.”
After Harrington missed his short par putt on the 17th that could have dropped the margin to one, Campbell and Harrington pulled their shots into the water on the final hole. Campbell bogeyed, while Harrington again saved par.
Harrington was upset after his missed opportunities on the final few holes. “On 18, it looked like I had another chance,” he said. “I kept on being given chances. I felt on 18 I was trying to win there, and then I was trying to hit it as close as I could, but I pulled it a little.
“I’m gutted. Michael got so much ahead, he saw the winning post and started to bleed. To be honest, it was a chance for anybody else to win the tournament.”
– From staff and wire reports