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Pluck of The Irish

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington becomes the first European to win the Open Championship since 1999 and the first Irishman in 60 years to win the claret jug. (Robert Galbraith - Reuters)

García, who led the tournament after each of the first three rounds and seemed on his way to winning his first major championship, had several woe-is-me moments in his news conference.

He hit a 3-iron off the tee at the 18th in regulation and had a 3-iron in his hand in the fairway, with 248 yards to reach the pin and 228 yards get to the front of the green. He also was unhappy about having to wait so long to make that second shot, at first because Chris DiMarco and Paul McGinley were putting out, and then because two bunkers were being raked.

"When you're one shot in front, hitting a 3-iron into a green where there's danger everywhere, having to wait at least 15 minutes to hit your shot doesn't help," he said. "It doesn't help at all. I wasn't very happy about that. "

When he finally made his shot, "unfortunately I just didn't cut it, and it went in the bunker. I hit a great bunker shot, just a little too far. And I hit a great putt. I thought it was right there. I thought it was in and it kind of went a little left and lipped out. So that's the way it is."

In fact, García hit putts at the 15th, 17th and 18th holes of regulation and all four putts in the playoff that either grazed the cup or missed by an inch. Asked if that was the first time that had ever happened to him, García laughed and said: "Obviously you haven't been watching me much. You only watch the guys that make the putts and get the good breaks and things like that."

Harrington got one of the best breaks of all on his second shot at the 514-yard 14th hole, when it hit the side of a bank above the green and kicked down toward the hole. As he walked up to the green, he thought he'd be facing a 30-footer. Instead it rolled to within 15 feet, and he made the eagle putt to take his first lead of the day.

At No. 18 in regulation, despite hitting his drive into Barry Burn down the right side, then hitting his third shot fat into the burn in front of the green, Harrington kept telling himself to get up and down for a 6 that still might get him in a playoff. He did, hitting a fifth-shot wedge to within four feet, and making that tough putt to finish at 7 under.

"I kind of had a feeling, even though things hadn't gone for me, that hey, I could chip this in," he said. "If I'm going to win an Open, my break is going to happen at this stage. Holing the putt there was probably the most pressure-filled putt I had all day. If I missed, it was the end of it. That was a moment I actually thought things are going to go my way.

"I sat there in that hut and I was as disciplined as I could be with my focus not to brood, no ifs and whats or buts. If I'd thrown away the Open, it would have been incredibly hard to take. It would have hit me very hard, and I think I would have struggled in the future."

But now, he is the British Open champion, only the second Irishman to win a major championship following Fred Daly's victory at Hoylake in the 1947 British Open.

"It's been a long road," Harrington said. "I don't know if I ever believed I was going to do it, but I tried, especially this week, to convince myself I was going to do it. I just drew on all my experience in playing links golf, and I honestly convinced myself I was going to win."

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