PÁDRAIG Harrington survived a final-round charge by his Ryder Cup nemesis Steve Stricker to win the US Senior Open and his first senior Major by a shot at Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania.
The Dubliner (50) started the day five shots clear of Gene Sauers and Rob Labritz and eight ahead of winning 2021 US Ryder Cup captain Stricker on 11-under.
Despite making two birdies and two bogeys to lead by six at the turn, Harrington saw his lead reduced to just one when he bogeyed the 10th and 11th and Stricker, playing three groups ahead, birdied 12th, 14th and 17th.
The American then hit his approach to five feet at the last, but before he made his putt to draw level and set the target at nine-under with a six-under 65, Harrington rattled in a 25-footer at the 15th to go clear again.
He needed three pars to win and after a delicate two-putt from 40 feet at the 16th, he ran a 45-footer six feet past at the par-three 17th but made the return, then two-putted the 18th from 35 feet, rolling in a three-footer for a one-over 72 and his first win since the 2016 Portugal Masters.
“It’s tough to lead from the front and it’s even tougher when it’s Steve Stricker behind you,” Harrington said.
“He’s kind of got one up on me. Maybe I owed him one here today but he certainly had my number a few times.
“I might’ve fancied another player coming behind me but not Steve Stricker. He had one over on me so I’m happy enough to get it done in the end.”
After following Stricker and Jim Furyk as a third player in a row to win the US Senior Open on their debut, Harrington added: “It ’s very special. The reason I’m on the Champions Tour and the reason I’m out here is I want to win. I want to win the big events. I want to win the majors on the Champions Tour.
“You go out on the regular tour and if you’re not winning the tournament and you’re finishing 30th or 40th it’s a struggle. But with the crowds cheering you on and rooting for you, and rooting against you in places, that’s why we do it. ‘
“My caddie [Ronan Flood] kept reminding me of that as we were going along. ‘Would you want to be anywhere else?’ As tough as the day is coming down the stretch with a one shot lead he kept reminding me, ‘would you want to be anywhere else?’ You would’ve taken this at the start of the week.”
Impressed by the golf course, Harrington praised the USGA on the greens staff, adding: “The USGA gave us a real test. It’s fantastic to go out and play real golf. You feel like you’re under pressure all the time out there so it was definitely a USGA event.
“It was a battling week and I knew that would suit me. It kind of put a bit more pressure on me at times but thank you to the USGA for setting up a really tough test.”
In the KPMG Women’s PGA at Congressional, Stephanie Meadow clinched her first top 10 in a Major for eight years when she closed with a two-over 74 to finish tied tenth behind wire-to-wire winner In Gee Chun.
The Jordanstown star (30) picked up $156,315 (€148,000) as she finished on level-par, five shots behind the Korean, who added a third major to her wins in the 2015 US Women’s Open and 2016 Evian Championship.
After opening with a stunning 64 to lead by five shots, Chun saw her lead reduced to just three strokes with a round to go.
She turned in four-over-par to trail Lexi Thompson by two strokes but came home in one-under as the American’s putting let her down and she bogeyed the 16th and 17th for a 73 that left her tied second with Mingee Lee, who shot 70, on four-under.
In the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, Rory McIlroy closed with a three-under 67 to finish tied 19th on nine-under, ten strokes behind Xander Schauffele, who birdied the 18 with a wedge to three feet to win by two strokes at TPC River Highlands.
Schauffele started the day a shot ahead of pal Patrick Cantlay, who faded to tied 13th after a 76.
But while rookie Sahith Theegala took a one-shot lead down the 18th, he drove into a fairway bunker and ran up a double-bogey six for a 67 to share second with JT Poston as Séamus Power signed for a level-par 70 to tie for 25th on eight-under.