MIYAZAKI, Japan (AP) – Playoffs have been very good to Tiger Woods. Not this time.

Woods lost for the second time in 16 official tournament playoffs, falling to Padraig Harrington on the second extra hole Sunday at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“I was struggling all day with my swing,” Woods said. “It wasn’t just my tee shots, it was everything. I was just trying to hang in there. I gave myself a chance to win and that’s a nice positive.”

Tiger Woods squandered a three-stroke lead with six holes left to set up the playoff against Harrington.

Harrington tapped in a birdie on the second hole in sudden death to prevent Woods from winning the $1.69 million tournament for the third straight year.

The Irishman played the back nine in 4 under. He then birdied both extra holes at Phoenix Country Club. Harrington and Woods shot 3-under-par 67s to finish at 9-under 271, one shot ahead of Japan’s Keiichiro Fukabori, whose 30-foot eagle putt at the final hole lipped out, depriving him of a playoff spot.

“The fact that I’ve beaten Tiger in a playoff makes me no different a golfer than when I came here this week,” Harrington said. “It may change what people think about me, but in my own eyes I’m the same golfer.”

Woods’ only other playoff defeat came against Billy Mayfair at the 1998 Nissan Open. Woods also lost a playoff to Nick Price in the 1998 Million Dollar Challenge, an unofficial event in South Africa.

Harrington certainly had luck on his side.

After his tee shot at the second extra hole stopped behind a tree, he tried to thread the needle with his second shot, aiming for a gap between the split trunks of the stunted pine. He made it. The ball traveled another 130 yards on the par-5 18th, drawing a perfect lie in a trampled area of rough.

“I definitely got lucky, but sometimes fortune favors the brave,” said Harrington, whose third shot, with a gap wedge, stopped within two feet of the pin.

Woods had already hit his third shot to 12 feet. He rarely misses clutch shots, but this time his ball narrowly missed the pin on the low side.

Harrington said he liked his chances even when he was down by three shots.

“Tiger had gone into that ‘I’m three ahead, play steady golf’ mode. I knew I had an opportunity if I could make some birdies.”

That’s what happened at the par-4 16th, where Woods had a three-putt bogey, missing his second putt from inside four feet moments after Harrington had drained his from 20 feet.

“That was a poor putt. I pulled it back a little shut and blocked it,” Woods said.

It was tied up at the 18th and both players made birdie to set up the playoff.

On the first extra hole, also the 18th, Harrington curled in a tricky 10-footer for birdie and Woods hit a birdie putt from 7 feet out.

Back they went to the 18th tee, as it turned out for the final time. Woods had to hang around for the victory presentation, on the losing end for only the sixth time in 51 events worldwide where he led going into the final round.

“Having him put the jacket on my back was special but I did say to him I’d like him to do it with a different jacket at a different time in the future,” Harrington said, with Augusta National on his mind.

AP-ES-11-19-06 1337EST


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