Fisher holds off Harrington to take Irish Open

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Fisher holds off Harrington to take Irish Open
Ross Fisher dashed Padraig Harrington's hopes of a home win at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club yesterday, beating him by two strokes despite the Dubliner's impressive final round of seven-under-par 64 at the Irish Open yesterday.
That left Harrington on 16-under for the tournament, his 10ft eagle putt on the 16th piling the pressure on Fisher, who had earlier eagled a 20ft putt of his own on the 7th. But if Fisher couldn't quite match the Irishman's closing score, birdies on the 15th and 16th were enough to see him come home six-under-par 65, enough to finish 18-under for the tournament - thus matching the record score that Colin Montgomerie produced nine years ago.
Fisher would have been at the forefront of Montgomerie's mind yesterday; the Scot is likely delighted and bemused in equal measure that he has yet another serious contender for the European Ryder Cup team that he captains in October. With this result, Fisher climbs to sixth in the rankings for the tournament - a position that, if maintained, would guarantee the 29-year-old a place on the team.
The win also sees Fisher's world standing improve, his fourth win on the European Tour enabling him to return to the top 20 of the world golf rankings, at No. 20.

After completing the 18 holes, Fisher admitted: "I could hear the roars and knew Padraig was making a charge. I just tried to stay patient and this is what we play for - we want to give ourselves a chance and I am no different."
"It just feels great to come out on top against such a world-class field," he added.
While Harrington will have been disappointed to have missed out on the win, the Irishman looks to be approaching the kind of quality that saw him win three majors in two years between 2007 and 2008. By contrast, on the European tour he still hasn't won for two years - but with 27 second place finishes, the 38-year-old looks another difficult player to leave out of Monty's Ryder Cup team.
Spain's Gonzalo Fdez-Castano finished in third place after shooting his fourth sub-70 round of the tournament, tying with England's Chris Wood on 14-under for the tournament. England's Richard Bland and Australia's Richard Green were tied for fifth place. Italy's Francesco Molinari was 10-under, a score that saw him finish in eighth place.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke finished just outside of the top 10 on eight-under, while the 17-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero was five-under for the tournament, tying for 21st place. But US Open winner Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, could only finish three-under while Rory McIlroy fared worse, two-under-par after a poor round of 76 on Saturday scuppered the 21-year-old's chances.
Justin Rose is in the running for golfer of the year on the PGA Tour, thanks to his two wins in a month on the US circuit, but the Englishman rarely showed his best form in Ireland this week. Rose could only finish one-over for the tournament, and at present, sitting outside the automatic qualification places, the potential player of the year is far from guaranteed a place in the Ryder Cup.



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