A blustery Royal Birkdale finally witnessed a European winner when defending Open Champion Padraig Harrington used all of his knowledge of links golf to make it two-in-a-row in 2008.

Unlike the previous year at Carnoustie when the Irishman had to endure a nerve shredding play-off against Sergio Garcia to get his hands on the Claret Jug, this time he had the luxury of enjoying the walk up the 18th after a sensational 5-wood from 249 yards set up an eagle on the 17th to help him to a four-stroke victory over England’s Ian Poulter.

“I’m holding on to this,” he said clutching the trophy. “I had a great year as Open Champion, so much so I didn’t want to give it back.”

Another links maestro in the shape of 53 year old Greg Norman looked like he might pull off the unthinkable when he shot 72 in gale-force winds in the third round to take a two-stroke lead into the final day. alas, he faltered with eight bogeys en-route to a closing 77 but still finished a highly impressive share of third place with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

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