The 136th Open | 2007 Carnoustie

Harrington and Garcia compete in thrilling play-off

If the annals of history teach you anything about Carnoustie, it is to expect the unexpected.

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From Tom Watson winning the Claret Jug at his first attempt in 1975, to Francesco Molinari emerging from the pack to top a star-studded leaderboard in 2018, it is a course that keeps on producing classic moments.

Undoubtedly the most famous of these came in 1999, when Jean van der Velde, leading by three on the 72nd hole, paid a dramatic visit to the Barry Burn, squandered his lead and was then beaten by Paul Lawrie in a play-off.

Eight years after the Frenchman's painful finish, Padraig Harrington also learned how Carnoustie's 18th can bite, albeit with a more positive outcome.

At 35 years of age, the Irishman had come close to Open glory on several occasions, tying for fifth in 1997 and 2002, but in his mid-30s and with golf locked under Tiger Woods' spell, some wondered if his time had passed.

Harrington's form in golf's biggest events had also been below par - although he remained a regular winner on the European Tour, he had missed the cut at six of his last nine Majors leading into The 136th Open.

However, golf is a funny game and Harrington put together a steady week. When he arrived on Sunday morning ahead of the final round, he found himself tied for third and six shots off the lead.

On the final day, those ahead of him, including Sergio Garcia - who had dominated the week up that point - faded, while Harrington played one of the rounds of his life.

Incredibly, he led by a shot ahead of the 72nd hole but hit into the Barry Burn - not once, but twice.  

He trudged off with a double bogey, which itself was only secured by a nerveless clutch putt, his hopes of becoming the Champion Golfer seemingly gone.

Yet although Garcia came to the last with a one-shot lead, the Spaniard could not make par from a bunker, meaning another Carnoustie play-off was required.

Harrington has long been admired for his mental fortitude and he displayed it here, recovering from the blow of the 72nd hole to birdie the first in the play-off. Garcia bogeyed, giving the Irishman a two-shot lead, and Harrington played the following three holes safely to win the Claret Jug. 

Irish eyes are smiling

His victory ended a 60-year wait for an Irish Champion Golfer, dating back to Fred Daly's success in 1947 marking the last.

"It's going to take a long time for it to sink in," said Harrington.

"I know it was only a short putt (to seal victory), but the emotions of it. I couldn't believe it as it was rolling in from right in the middle of the hole, and I'm thinking, 'that Claret Jug is mine'."