Using a new, 9-degree Wilson Staff Dd6+ driver, Padraig Harrington achieved his lifetime ambition by becoming the first Irishman since John O'Leary in 1982, to win the Irish Open.
After taming the Adare Manor Hotel course, near Shannon and the windy conditions pre-weekend, he fired two rounds of 71. He looked to be coasting until Welshman Bradley Dredge hit back with eight birdies in his 68 to force a play-off.
At the first extra hole Harrington layed up short of the water at the par-5 after Dredge's ball found a deep lie on the river bank (he put his next into an even tougher position). A par was enough for the Irishman to salute the thousands who'd watched his chances almost ebb away.
Said Harrington, whose new world ranking promotes him one place to No.11: “This ranks as the fifth biggest tournament for me to win after the four Majors.”
He admitted he had been very nervous playing in front of such a passionate crowd but their support had lifted him, despite some wayward shots. Despite the heavy conditions, Harrington averaged 313 yards with his drives during the final round and combined with a set of Wilson Staff irons and his Dh6 hybrid club, claimed a birdie and an eagle at the two front nine par-5 holes to set up a lead, Dredge could not overtake.
It was his 11th win on the European Tour, taking his earnings for the season to more than £600,000 and third spot on the Order of Merit he won in 2006.
“Padraig had a great season last year and is going from strength to strength with his new Dd6+ driver,” said Doug Wright, business director of Wilson Golf in Europe. “He’s confident with the club off the tee and is consistently hitting drives around the 300 yard mark.
He added: “We use radar tracking technology to identify the best shaft options for Padraig who has combined a Harrison Striper Long Drive shaft with the Dd6+ clubhead. At 47 inches long, this shaft is at least one and a half inches longer than standard. Like all the top players, he is always looking out for a driver that can give him another five yards off the tee. The Dd6+ not only delivers extra length and power, but it’s so forgiving it helps him control his accuracy.”
Wilson Staff says what makes the Dd6+ driver special is its stretched body profile that delivers a much higher Moment of Inertia (MOI) and greater clubhead speed than usual – making it the most accurate and longest Wilson Staff driver ever produced.
The company claims that with a deeper body, lower profile and a longer face than conventional drivers it generates extra clubhead speed (at least 2 mph more), the Dd6+ adds an average of six yards on each tee shot. The lower profile head helps moves the centre of gravity lower in the clubhead and creates a high launch trajectory.
The Dd6+ driver has an recommended price of £199.
This week, Harrington is one of the favourites to claim the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - a title he has never won but cherishes almost as much as the Irish Open.