Former Texas A&M player Andrea Pavan is finally a European Tour winner. He won the $1.15 D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague by defeating three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.
The 29-year-old Italian returned a closing 67, 5 under, for a 22-under 266 total. He bettered the 46-year-old Irishman by two shots to take the $194,000 first-place check. Harrington earned $129,000.
“I can’t believe it,” Pavan said. “Coming down the back nine trailing Padraig and he was playing really well and not making any mistakes, I knew I needed to stay aggressive. I birdied 16, birdied 17 and it was unreal.
“You know when you go against a great player you need to stay aggressive and that was my mentality.”
Pavan looked destined to finish second for most of the final round. He trailed the Dubliner by three shots after a lackluster opening nine holes. He was still two adrift on the 15th tee. Five birdies over the last nine holes, including three out of four holes from the 13th, for an inward 31 to Harrington’s 36 proved decisive.
“It wasn’t an ideal start but I knew over 18 holes I could turn it around,” Pavan said. “I didn’t feel until the last few holes I could get this under my belt.”
The Man from Rome, who maintains his Texas ties by residing in McKinney, Texas, has struggled since turning pro in 2010. He’s made six trips to the Qualifying School and flipped between the main tour and Challenge Tour, where he has four wins. Two came in 2011, and the other two in 2013.
“It’s tough because I won four times on the Challenge Tour, but it’s a long time ago. Here it’s obviously more difficult.”
He was already enjoying his best European Tour season at 53rd on the money list with $620,000 in earnings. This win gives him a realistic chance of playing in the lucrative season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Harrington was looking for his 16th European Tour win, and first since the 2016 Portugal Masters. A bogey at the 15th dented his hopes. He returned a closing 69.
Former New Mexico All-American Gavin Green finished third on 17 under. Green, who won eight times in college golf, secured his playing rights for next year.