For a long time it seemed that no one would be able to stop Padraig Harrington on his road to victory in the fifth year of the Czech Masters. Even as deep in the tournament as the 13th hole of the final round, he led Andreas Pavan by two strokes. But then he messed up a few strokes, whereas the Italian had a powerful finish and recorded his first European Tour win.
Pavan achieved a record-breaking score at the Czech Masters, carding -22 when he beat the score attained by Thomas Pieters in 2015 by two strokes. After placing joint sixth last week in Sweden, he leaves Prague not only with the cup, but also a winner’s cheque for 166,660 euro (approximately CZK 4.3 million).
Spectators were treated to a fantastic battle in the final round at Albatross on Sunday, which starred three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Andrea Pavan, who was the holder of ”only” four wins on the Challenge Tour to date.
However, in a duel with a far more famous rival, the Italian showed a devastating finish, scoring five birdies on the second nine holes and winning deservedly. Moreover, this is yet another reason to be happy, as he is expecting the birth of his second child in the middle of next week.
”So far I do not realise what I have just achieved. I knew it would be difficult today. Padraig is such an experienced and great player, he played beautifully here. It was my huge putt on the 16th,“ said Pavan, clearly mentioning the crucial moment of the final, when he scored from the foregreen.
He then added another birdie on the 17th, whereas Harrington missed his birdie attempt by only a few centimetres. Both players arrived on the 18th green, with the Italian leading by two strokes.
Harrington‘s wishes were not heard, because even here the ball just skirted along the edge of the hole. This meant that Pavan could bathe in sparkling champagne right after his last putt.
”This week I had the feeling that everything worked for me. My driver, which I have been fighting with for years, and my putting. This was incredible for the first three days. Not so much today, but I made the important putts, especially the one on the 16th,“ said Pavan when asked to comment on his performance.
Although his Italian rival demonstrated a crushing finish, Harrington also helped him to his triumph by making mistakes.
Both entered the 4th round with a score of -17. The Irishman carded a birdie right on the first, while Pavan carded a bogey on the second. After the first nine holes, the fantastically-playing Harrington was already leading by three strokes and it looked as if one of the biggest star of the tournament would win at Albatross.
However, Pavan stood steadfast in defiance, scored five times on the second nine, while Harrington was in trouble and had to save pars several times. He was not successful in this endeavour on the 15th, and when the Italian carded a birdie on the following two holes, he took the Czech Masters for himself.
Gavin Green from Malaysia fought hard to secure a stand-alone third place with a score of -17. Thomas Pieters and Eddie Pepperell, who are both fighting to secure a Rider Cup nomination, ended up sharing ninth place. Danny Willett, Masters champion of two years ago, finished the Czech Masters after a solid performance in the TOP 20.