Harrington wins wild Monday finish at Honda Classic

Final Round –PGA Tour – The Honda Classic – PGA National – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida –Harrington wins for the first time since 2008

No less than a half dozen players seemed to have a shot to win the rain-delayed Monday finish at The Honda Classic.

The PGA Tour’s first stop in the Florida Swing proved entertaining with an action-packed Monday finish with a bevy of story lines headlined by that of Northern Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.

Harrington, the 36-hole leader at PGA National, seemed all but finished during Monday’s restart in his run to win the first time on tour since the PGA Championship in 2008. After 39 on the front nine, he looked out of it until he rallied with four straight birdies.

The three-time major champion went on to double-bogey No. 17 to drop the lead and then rebounded to make birdie at the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Daniel Berger, a 21-year-old PGA Tour rookie, at 6-under overall.

On the second playoff hole (playing the 17th hole), the 43-year-old stuffed his tee shot while Berger found the water. The moment sealed the victory for Harrington, who was playing on a sponsor’s exemption after slipping to 297th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Monday finish was fast paced starting with overnight delayed co-leaders Paul Casey and Ian Poulter eyeing the win. Casey fell off early, but Poulter seemed destined to win as a 100-to-1 long shot bet until he lost nearly a dozen golf balls in water hazards to ruin his shot.

Patrick Reed also had his shot, while Phil Mickelson faded early Monday.

Reed, the best-ranked player in the mix at No. 16 in the rankings, was tied for the lead with Harrington until he found water a double bogey to start the Bear Trap late in his final round.

Maybe the biggest surprise was Berger.

The rookie posted a 6-under-64 in the final round to become the club house leader at 6-under overall. Berger was in position for his maiden PGA Tour triumph until Harrington forced the playoff. Berger, who was making just his 12th PGA Tour start, missed a makeable putt to win it on the first playoff hole.

Russell Knox, Casey and Poulter ended up T-3 at 5-under and a shot back. Jamie Donaldson was alone in sixth place, while Luke Donald and Reed ended up T-7.

Other Golf news:

  • Lydia Ko captured the Ladies European Tour’s ISPS Handa Women’s New Zealand Open to solidify her stop as the Rolex Ranking No. 1. She heads to Singapore this week for the HSBC Women’s Champions where Paula Creamer serves as defending champion.
  • The WGC-Match Play is rumored to be heading to Austin, Texas for the 2016 edition at Austin Country Club. Dell is one of the possible sponsors. The event would be hosted two weeks prior to the Masters. This year’s WGC-Match Play will be played in late April at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
  • Andy Sullivan (17-under) shot 66 in the final round to convert his second European Tour victory of the season. He won the South African Open, chasing down Charl Schwartzel in early January. He was a 16-1 pick heading into the tournament.
  • Amy Yang (15-under) outlasted Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng and Mirim Lee to win the Honda LPGA Thailand for her second career LPGA Tour triumph. Yang finished 2014 at T-44 in the Race to the CME Globe standings.
  • Casey, who was 7-under when played was suspended Sunday in Florida, was a 50-1 pick heading into the week. The Englishman didn’t have a Top 10 on the PGA Tour since 2011 until a runner-up finish last week at Riviera. He lost in a playoff to James Hahn in a three-man playoff. He won titles in each of the last two seasons on the European Tour.