PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (Reuters) - Padraig Harrington ended a seven-year title drought on the two main tours when he won the Honda Classic in a playoff with American rookie Daniel Berger after a thrilling finish on Monday.
The victory in the rain-disrupted tournament was sweet for the 43-year-old Irishman, a triple major winner who has plummeted down the rankings after several seasons of struggle and entered the tournament ranked 297th in the world.
Harrington’s last win on either the PGA Tour or European Tour came at the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship, although he ended last year with a December victory on the Asian Tour at the Indonesia Open.
Both players finished on six under par, but Berger found water on the second playoff hole, the par-three 17th, and Harrington two-putted from three feet after having produced an exquisite iron shot off the tee.
The twice former British Open champion would not have needed a playoff had he taken care of that hole during regulation.
Leading the event on the 17th tee, Harrington sliced his tee shot into the water and made a double-bogey which left him a stroke behind Berger who had been nine off the pace at the start of the round.
Harrington responded in typically gritty fashion, setting up the playoff by sinking a superb 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
“Hopefully this isn’t an isolated win,” he said. “I think I have found that mental edge I had been missing and hopefully I can be consistently contending,” he said.
It was a deeply disappointing Monday though for Britain’s Ian Poulter who was the overnight joint leader with compatriot Paul Casey.
Poulter shot a four-over 74, imploding with a double-bogey on the 11th and a triple-bogey on the par-four 14th -- both times paying the price for finding water.
“There’s lots of plusses with how I’ve played all week, but there’s nothing like handing the golf tournament away. It makes you feel pretty sick,” said Poulter.
Casey shot 68 finishing tied for third alongside Poulter and Scotland’s Russell Knox while a strong British showing included Welshman Jamie Donaldson who finished sixth after a final round 66.
Another Englishman, Luke Donald finished tied for seventh along with Americans Jim Herman, Jeff Overton and Patrick Reed, who was in contention before a disastrous end to his round with a double-bogey on the 15th followed by bogeys on the next two holes.
Editing by Tony Jimenez and Larry Fine