Sports Outside the Beltway

Irish Eyes are smiling- Padraig Harrington wins back to back British Opens

The Irish golfer won by four shots over Ian Poulter. Greg Norman, who had the lead going into the final round, finished tied for third with Henrik Stenson. Jim Furyk was the low American, finishing tied for 5th with amateur Chris Wood.

A four-shot margin victory usually denotes a tournament with little suspense. That can hardly be said for the 2008 British Open. First Harrington played the front nine in three over. That and Norman’s struggles allowed many players into the tournament. Harrington then steadied himself but it was not before he made a birdie on 15 did that victory looked fairly certain. An eagle on the Par five 17th doubled Harrington’s lead from two to four shots.

With Harrington winning in 2007 also, we now have had back to back back to back British Open champs. Tiger Woods in 05 and 06 and now Harrington. Before that you got to go back to Tom Watson in 82 and 83. Next year’s British Open goes to Turnberry. Can Harrington be the first player to three peat since Peter Thomson in 1956? He likes links golf, but we’ll have to wait a year.

One last thing- Tom Watson won his 5th British Open at Birkdale and his first at Carnoustie. The courses Harrington has won on. How about Turnberry? That was the sight of Tom Watson’s famous 1977 duel with Jack Nicklaus. Watson came out on top. History may be on Harrington’s side. Carnoustie was out of the British Open rotation from 1976-98 and Turnberry was only added in 1977 and has not held the Open since 1994. There isn’t that large a group who had chances at all three of these courses.

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