Fisher outduels Harrington to win Irish Open
Sunday, January 23, 2011
KILLARNEY, Ireland – Ross Fisher won the Irish Open by two strokes over Padraig Harrington on Sunday after shooting a 6-under 65 in the final round.
Fisher led by one shot going into the round but stretched that advantage to three after sinking a 15-foot eagle putt at the par-5 seventh hole.
The Englishman totaled 18-under 266 at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club after he had been briefly joined at the top of the leaderboard by Harrington (64) on three occasions.
Fisher’s fourth career victory lifted him to sixth place in the qualifying standings that will determine nine automatic members on the European team for the Ryder Cup later this year.
“The Ryder Cup has been my goal this year and there’s still going to be some changes and shifting around in the qualifying table,” Fisher said. “But this is just the first tournament in a very important three weeks. And I am now going to go into the Bridgestone Invitational and the U.S. PGA looking forward to playing well again.
“They are two very big tournaments and I want to go out there and prove that this win was not a fluke.”
The victory was achieved under considerable pressure from Harrington, who enjoyed overwhelming local support from the crowd of 21,000.
He began three shots behind Fisher but drew level for the third time when he holed a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 15th.
But Fisher, playing two groups behind Harrington, responded with birdies at the 15th and 16th to regain the lead and closed out his victory with two comfortable pars.
“I have come close to winning in Ireland a couple of times in the past,” Fisher said. “And to get the victory done in front of record crowds and to beat Paddy, who was obviously fighting all the way, is something I will definitely treasure for a long time.”
Harrington’s 26th runner-up finish on the European Tour lifted him to 10th in the Ryder Cup qualifying standings after several disappointing months.
“Ross played very well going out leading and shooting 65. That’s very impressive, so fair play to him,” Harrington said. “I don’t feel like I lost the tournament, so I am not going to walk away disappointed. Ross went out there and won it.”
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain (67) and Chris Wood of England (68) were next at 270, followed by Richard Bland of England (65) and Richard Green of Australia (67) another shot back.