AP – Padraig Harrington knew the United States (US) Senior Open was in his hands on Sunday with a five-shot lead. Part of him hoped for an easy day, a chance to wave to the gallery and maybe even show off with some aggressive play that wouldn’t cost him.
He got the win. It was a lot harder than he wanted.
Harrington went from a six-shot lead at the turn to holding off Steve Stricker, and he delivered with a 30-foot birdie putt and three tough lag putts for par to capture his first senior win.
“It’s tough to lead from the front,” Harrington said. “It’s even tougher when it’s Steve Stricker behind you. He tends to have one on me. I’m happy enough to get it done in the end.”
Harrington, who never lost the lead at Saucon Valley, closed with a 1-over 72 and became the third straight US Senior Open champion to win in is debut.
Stricker, who started the final round eight shots behind, began making his run with consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, and he closed with two straight birdies for a 65.
That left him one shot behind, and the Irishman needed only pars to win for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions.
Harrington had to two-putt from above the ridge on the 16th, and he trickled it down to a foot. He was well below the ridge from about 50 feet away on the par-3 17th and, after running that by six feet, calmly rolled in the par putt.
On the closing hole, he was pin-high but some 35 feet away with a spine running through the line of his putt. He cozied that to three feet and rapped it in for the win.