With a round to go, the Czech Masters had looked like a match between Joe Dyer's 50/1 each-way fancy, Andrea Pavan, and veteran major champ, Padraig Harrington, and so it transpired but for much of the fourth and final day it looked likely that the Irishman would prevail.
The pair had begun the final day tied for the lead and three clear of the remainder but Harrington rolled in a birdie at the opening hole to edge ahead of Pavan and the advantage was doubled at the second when the Italian bogeyed the par four. They both matched each-others scores until the ninth when Pod edged even further ahead with a birdie four and Pavan could only par the hole. Harrington was matched at a low of 1.182/11 as it looked likely that the 46-year-old would claim his 16th European Tour title but Pavan deserves much credit for the way he turned it all around on the back-nine to win his first.
Birdies at 10 and 12 saw the gap bridged to just one before Padraig played a sublime tee-shot in to the par three 13th to extend the lead back to two but he just couldn't live with Pavan done the stretch. The Italian played the back-nine in five-under-par (two shots better than anyone else yesterday), birdying three of the last five holes and it was impossible not to be impressed with his finish.
Over in the States, pre-event 100.099/1 chance, Bryson DeChambeau, comfortably converted a four-stroke 54-hole lead to win The Northern Trust - the first of four FedEx Cup events. The gap narrowed to just two after the turn but a terrific up-and-down on 12 set up back-to-back birdies and victory was straightforward enough after that.
This was Bryson's third PGA Tour victory and it sees him move to number one in the FedEx Cup and number 12 in the Official World Rankings.
It's been a disappointing week. My pre-event picks were poor at both events and, as detailed in the In-Play Blog, my in-running picks weren't any better and I made matters slightly worse by backing Harrington with two holes to play yesterday.
I thought Pavan might wobble once he'd hit the front after a lengthy birdie at the 16th so I had a tiny bet on Padraig at 3.55/2 but it didn't take long to see I was wrong. The Italian followed the birdie two at 16 with a birdie three at 17 and that was the end of that.
Numerous factors can inspire success
We can study course and current form and course layouts all we want but other factors are at play with most winners and that was certainly the case last week.
DeChambeau had been recorded having a bit of a paddy on the range at the Open Championship, as he struggled to find his swing, just days before throwing away a lead at the Porsche European Open and those incidents contributed to his victory in New Jersey.
"That struggle is what led me to this point. That's the thing that people sometimes miss is the fact that those moments, when you're at your, relatively speaking, lowest, are the times when you can learn the most. Even though I have hiccups every once in a while, those are great experiences I can learn from. Even though it was a tough time, I was able to push through it."
DeChambeau's success was built on failure in Germany and hard work to regain a lost swing, Pavan's victory came at a time when more happier things were happening. I really don't think it's coincidental that the 29-year-old Italian's first European Tour title came so soon after fellow countryman, Francesco Molinari, had secured Italy's first major championship and knowing that his second child, a daughter, is to be born on Wednesday, must have been in his thoughts all week too.
Life in the old Pod yet
Padraig Harrington had begun the week as an almost unconsidered 200.0199/1 chance, who was matched at a high of 490.0489/1 in-running, but he showed yesterday that another win is far from impossible as he did absolutely nothing wrong. A level par back-nine wasn't ideal but he'd raced to three clear at the turn and this was definitely a tournament won by Pavan and not lost by Pod.
He won the Portugal Masters two years ago and he was an excellent fourth in Turkey last November so it's perfectly possible that we'll see him contend again on the European Tour. His win in Portugal, his fourth in Turkey and last week's second all came on the back of a run of poor results so backing him blind at 200.0199/1 or bigger might make sense.
It's great to see him contend again and it was great to see him signing autographs straight after the event and to see him tweet like the gentleman he is.
We're off to Denmark for the Made in Denmark on the European Tour and to Massachusetts in the States for the Dell Technologies Championship and I'll be back tomorrow with a preview for each event.
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