Padraig Harrington claimed his first European Tour title in eight years as he held off the challenge of defending champion Andy Sullivan at the Portugal Masters.
The three-time Major Championship winner’s last triumph on Tour was his 2008 win at the US PGA Championship and he showed all his experience under pressure in a closing bogey-free 65 to get to 23 under.
That was one shot better than Sullivan who also closed his week at Victoria Clube de Golfe with a 65, and two better than the semi-retired Anders Hansen and Finn Mikko Korhonen – who secured his playing privileges after starting the week 116th on the Race to Dubai.
The victory takes Harrington’s European Tour tally to 15 wins and moves him alongside Thomas Bjørn at 15th on the all-time list.
“I haven’t won yet this year, so I know the year is nearly done, it’s always important to get a win every year, a winning year,” he said.
“It’s a big win. Portugal Masters is a big tournament. I’ve been coming here for ten years so I’ve always liked it down here. I’ve always liked coming down to Portugal.
“There’s so many Irish people here. It always felt like a home away from home, so it’s really nice to win the tournament.
“I tried to be really aggressive. The golf course suited me and I just tried to go after every pin I could and make birdies. I have a pretty good short game that was on form this week. No matter where I hit it, I felt like I could get it up and down.”
Englishman Sullivan was attempting to become the first man to successfully defend the title while Denmark’s Hansen – who retired at this event last season and was making just his fifth 2016 appearance – was looking to claim his first win since 2009.
Korhonen needed to finish in the top 26 to have a chance getting into the top 111 on the Race to Dubai and keep his card and he did that in style, with Australian Jason Scrivener and Englishman Oliver Fisher – who started the week at 113th and 114th respectively – also keeping their cards.
Craig Lee and Eddie Pepperell had missed the cut and they were the men to drop out of the top 111 along with Zander Lombard who was not playing this week.
English duo Robert Rock and Chris Paisley finished at 20 under alongside Scot Paul Lawrie and American David Lipsky, with Spaniard Nacho Elvira a further shot back.
Fisher and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert then closed out the top ten at 18 under.
Sullivan made a stunning start, birdieing four of his first five holes to get to 20 under, while Korhonen birdied the second and fourth and when Hansen had gains on the fourth and fifth, there was a three-way tie at the top.
A brilliant bunker shot from Harrington helped set up a birdie on the second but when Hansen made a third birdie in a row on the sixth, the Irishman found himself three shots off the lead.
He cut that gap to two with a birdie on the seventh and then holed an exquisite bunker shot on the 11th before following it with another birdie on the 12th. Sullivan had also taken advantage of the par five and once again, there were three players at the top of the leaderboard.
Harrington spun his approach on the 14th back to five feet to move ahead but Sullivan took an aggressive line over the water on the 17th and joined him at 22 under.
A third birdie of the week on the penultimate hole followed from Harrington, however, and he parred the last to claim a dramatic victory.
Korhonen had dropped a shot on the seventh but made two birdies on the back nine while Hansen finished his round with 12 pars.