FRISCO, Texas — Madison’s Steve Stricker hugged his daughter and temporary caddy Izzy a little tighter after completing a comeback and winning the Senior PGA Championship.
Now a six-time senior major winner, Stricker shared this one with a high school golf champion from Wisconsin, where Stricker was also born and raised.
“She admires what I do for a living and she plays great golf herself,” Stricker said. “It’s great fun having him with me. It is special.
Stricker beat Padraig Harrington on the first hole of a senior PGA title playoff on Sunday, giving the 56-year-old American a sweep of the first two majors of the season.
Harrington forced the playoff with a short birdie putt on the par-5 18th, but put his drive into the replay of the 72nd hole in the deep grass on the right side of the fairway.
After a failed attempt to hack the ball, the 51-year-old Irishman fell to what he said was around 270 yards and put a 5-wood within 15 feet.
Stricker, who stayed clear of his driver and gave up both times on 18, missed a second straight putt to win, but Harrington couldn’t make the par putt to extend the playoff.
“If I make the putt, we could say it’s one of the best shots I’ve ever made,” Harrington said. “The fact that I didn’t make the putt will be forgotten. Golf is cruel.
Stricker and Harrington, who were trying to become the first senior PGA wire-to-wire winner since Rocco Mediate in 2016, finished 18 under. Stricker shot 3 under 69 and Harrington 70.
Stricker’s victory came two weeks after a second straight victory in the Regions Tradition.
Harrington’s first PGA Tour title was the US Senior Open last year, when he held off Stricker by a stroke in a duel of opposing Ryder Cup captains from 2021.
They were back at the first event on the Fields Ranch East course at the new PGA of America headquarters. The Frisco site, about 35 miles north of Dallas, is set to host the PGA Championship in 2027 and 2034 with talks of the Ryder Cup in the late 2030s.
“It means a lot,” Stricker said. “I spent a lot of time with the PGA of America during the Ryder Cup. Playing at another PGA next year, I think will be a lot of fun too.
Stewart Cink, playing with Stricker and Harrington but never threatening to crush their two-man battle, made a 60-footer for birdie 2 at No. 17 and made the par-5 18th to finish two strokes back.
A week after turning 50, Cink finished his Champions debut with a 69. He intends to continue competing on the PGA Tour for the time being.
“It’s not an easy golf course,” Cink said. “I’m gaining a lot of confidence on the road from here. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t looking forward to my next PGA Tour champions. I don’t know when it will be, but I can’t wait to be there. »
South Korean and Dallas resident YE Yang, the 2009 PGA champion, was alone fourth at 11 under after a 70. Defending champion Steven Alker shot 71 to finish 9 under with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke.
Stricker’s previous five senior major wins were by six strokes, but this time he came from behind, erasing a five-stroke deficit in the final nine holes of the third round to set up another two-man showdown with Harrington two years later. The American rout of Harrington’s crew at the Ryder Cup.
Stricker, who extended his Champions Tour record with a 49th consecutive round of par or better, took a two-stroke lead with a chip-in for a birdie at 220 yards, par-3 13th to respond to a bogey at 12.
Harrington cut the deficit to one with a birdie at the short par-4 15th. After the two bogeyed at 17, Harrington missed an eagle attempt at 18 to give Stricker a putt for the win. Stricker missed from about 18 feet and Harrington made a short putt to force the playoff.
“Steve is probably the toughest guy you can face on a Sunday,” Harrington said. “He must have the best corner game in the world. It’s a fabulous putter, it’s a fabulous chipper. In a match play situation, it’s someone you don’t want to play against.
The lead began to slip away from Harrington on Saturday when a bathroom break began a streak that led to a double bogey, his first over-par hole of the tournament, at the par-4 16th.
Harrington had another adventure on the same hole on the final round when a wayward tee shot hit a fan in the head on the left side, coming almost all the way to the fairway.
After putting his second shot on the green, Harrington waved at the fan sitting in a cart and holding what appeared to be a towel over his head injury. After giving him a signed glove, Harrington pulled out his wallet and gave the fan $300.
“It never really feels right to give a guy a glove,” Harrington said. “He’s a grown man, like what does he want with a glove with my signature on it?” So I thought, he said his wife was inside, but please take your wife to dinner with me. I hope I gave him enough for dinner – $300 should cover, right? »
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Steve Stricker Wins Senior PGA Playoff Over Padraig Harrington