TURNBERRY, Scotland — Padraig Harrington failed in his bid to become the first player in more than 50 years to win the British Open three straight times. The good news?
“I’ve another 28 of these to come back to,” Harrington said, alluding to Open champions invited back until they are older than 60.
Harrington opened steadily with a 69, but he struggled when the wind arrived off the Ayrshire coast. The 74 was a setback Friday, the 76 knocked him out of contention and he closed with a 73.
“It had to come to an end at some stage,” Harrington said. “I know I will come back and compete in many more Opens and win some more majors.”
It was the second time this year he has gone for three in a row at a major. At the Masters, he was trying to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three straight majors. He wasn’t close at Augusta National, either. Harrington has been slowed all year from spending too much attention on his swing, and not enough to scoring.
He is getting closer, but time is running out.
“The key now is to be ready for the PGA, and that’s really what I’m looking at,” he said. “I believe my game will be good and strong going into that, and that’s what I’ve got to aim for.”
Harrington will be the defending champion at the PGA Championship, played next month at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis.
Tom Watson wondered if Harrington was making a mistake by trying to shorten his swing. The Irishman appreciated the tip, but said that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve never tried to shorten my swing,” he said. “That’s obviously something you guys have come up with to try to analyze it. I’m a great believer that your swing finds its natural length, as Tom Watson’s swing has found its natural length. It is very nice that he would take time out and give a helping hand, but obviously, he’s got the wrong information, as many people have.”
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MAGNOLIA LANE: Chris Wood has played in two majors, and has finished in the top five both times.
He was a 20-year-old amateur last year at Royal Birkdale when he tied for fifth, which made him eligible for this British Open. By matching the low score of the final round, a 3-under 67, Wood wound up one shot out of the playoff and tied for third.
“Last year I think helped me an awful lot today,” he said. “It’s weird to say I’m only 21 and I’ve contended in two majors already. The experiences I’ve got out of the Open, they’re going to be amazing for my career.”
This finish gave him a chance at a third major.
The top four at the British Open are eligible for the Masters, so Wood will get his first trip to Augusta National.
Wood played the final round with Justin Rose, which was a small coincidence. Rose was the low amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
“We both won a silver medal, and both sort of made our names in the Open, really,” Wood said. “To play with him on the last day when we both had a chance was pretty good.”
Rose shot 70 and tied for 13th.
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WATSON’S WEEK: Tom Watson had at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a major for the 13th time, one fewer than the record held by Tiger Woods, one more than his old rival, Jack Nicklaus.
His success rate isn’t nearly as high, however.
Woods has won all 14 times he has had a 54-hole lead, while Nicklaus was 10-2, losing only to Charles Coody in the 1971 Masters and to Watson in the 1977 British Open at Turnberry.
Watson is now 6-7. Until Sunday, the last time he had failed to win with a 54-hole lead was in the 1987 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, known as the “Graveyard of Champions.
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ON TO ST. ANDREWS: Richard S. Johnson and Thomas Aiken had to qualify for the British Open this year, while Mathew Goggin only got in as an alternate. They won’t have to worry about that next year.
The British Open exempts anyone finishing among the top 10 the previous year. Goggin tied for fifth, while Aiken and Johnson finished another stroke behind.
British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero took bogey on the last hole, missing the top 10 by one shot.
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DOUBLE EAGLE HAS LANDED: Ten years after his stunning British Open victory, Paul Lawrie delivered another surprising thrill at Turnberry. He had a double eagle — the rarest shot in golf — by holing out a 4-iron from 213 yards on the par-5 seventh.
“First time,” Lawrie said. “I’ve not holed it before at a par 5. I just hit a nice 4-iron, and I saw it go in, too, which was nice.”
It helped atone for the triple bogey he made five holes later at the 12th, and Lawrie wound up with a 68.
That wasn’t the only big shot of the final round.
Thomas Levet of France, who lost a playoff at Muirfield seven years ago, made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole on his way to a 71.
Kevin Sutherland holed from the fairway at No. 5, the second-toughest hole in the final round, for an eagle. He was on the first page of the leaderboard until taking a quintuple-bogey 9 on the 14th. Sutherland wound up with a 75.
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DIVOTS: John Daly had two double bogeys and an eagle in an otherwise routine round of 72. He tied for 27th, his best finish since a tie for 15th in 2005 at St. Andrews, where he won his Claret Jug. … Jim Nantz, the golf announcer for CBS Sports, made a cameo on the BBC when Peter Alliss moved over to ABC Sports for a one-hour stint. Nantz usually only does the Masters and PGA Championship. He is a member of the Royal & Ancient. … Andres Romero made eagle on both the par 5s and shot 67. … Cink’s victory means Americans won the British Open seven times this decade.