Harrington wins Irish Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/harrington_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Padraig Harrington became the first native to win the Irish Open in 25 years on Sunday.

Updated: May 22, 2007 12:37 IST
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Adare, Ireland:

Padraig Harrington became the first native to win the Irish Open in 25 years on Sunday, parring the first extra hole of a playoff to beat Welshman Bradley Dredge.

The 35-year-old Dubliner prevailed when Dredge became tangled in heavy rough alongside the 18th fairway beside the River Maigue and ended up in shallow water.

"I have always said the Irish Open is like a fifth major for me, and to win it, well, I'm just ecstatic," Harrington said.

The victory before a large and partisan Irish crowd which carried posters saying "Ireland Expects" earned Harrington $561,500 and moved him back into the top 10 in golf's World Ranking. John O'Leary was the last Irishman to win the title in 1982.

Harrington started the day with a three-stroke lead and increased to four with an eagle at the 631-yard, par-5 ninth, hitting a 3 wood within 8 feet of the pin. But he bogeyed twice on the back nine while Dredge birdied four of six holes.

Dredge pulled even with a birdie at the par-4 17th, where Harrington hit his second through the green and bogeyed. Harrington finished with a 71 and Dredge a 68 to leave both at 5-under 283, four strokes ahead of their closest pursuers.

"Bradley kept coming at me and I had to stay calm and collected," said Harrington, Europe's No. 1 player last year. "His birdie at 17 was a body blow."

They parred 18, and then returned to it for the playoff. Both drove into rough and put their second shots into more rough. However, Dredge's was on a downslope on the river bank in tougher grass.

Dredge disappointed

While Harrington knocked his approach within 20 feet of the pin, Dredge's shot ended up on the far side of the river bank that cuts across in front of the green. Standing in mud, Dredge's fourth moved only about 6 feet, and when his chip-in attempt came up short, Harrington two-putted for victory.

"I'm a little disappointed at how it ended," Dredge said. "I thought I hit a good recovery at the last but it ended in the hazard and I didn't have much of a shot.

"Earlier mr driving was not good but my short game was and I holed some good putts and chipped in at the 14th."

Simon Wakefield of England finished with a 72 for a 1-under 287 and third place, one stroke ahead of Richard Green (72), Louis Oosthuizen (72) and Andres Romero (71).

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