Padraig Harrington reveals ‘startling’ discovery about senior-tour golf

padraig harrington

Padraig Harrington en route to victory at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open on Sunday.

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It’s easy to forget about yesterday’s stars when they begin to pull away from the PGA Tour and become regulars on the PGA Tour Champions. That’s a shame, because it’s not as if the 50-plus set suddenly forgets how to play at a high level when they trade, say, the Charles Schwab Challenge for the Cologuard Classic.

Take 51-year-old Padraig Harrington, who in seven Champions tour starts this year has finished outside of the top-10 just once — while also making five cuts in five tries on the PGA Tour, including a top-30 finish at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s interesting, when we’re out here we’re trying to beat the hell out of each other,” Harrington said last week. “But whenever somebody goes back to the regular Tour, we’re all rooting for them. We’re all hoping whoever goes back plays well just to prove that we still have it out here.”

Oh, they still have it all right — or, at least, Harrington does, and not just because he’s longer than ever, with ball speeds that have exceeded 190 mph. All parts of his game have been working, as exhibited by his stunning back-nine 28 that delivered him a come-from-behind win at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in En-Joie, N.Y., on Sunday. After getting a 30-yard bunker shot up-and-down for par on the par-4 11th, Harrington found another gear, finishing his round birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-par to move to 18 under for the week and edge Joe Durant by one.

Of the six-footer he holed for a deuce at 17, Harrington said: “I could have closed my eyes, turned my back and I would have holed the putt. It’s amazing, when they’re going in you can’t see a way of missing.”

Often that’s what it takes to win on the Champions tour, where the 54-hole format doesn’t allow for many slip-ups. One bad hole, you can survive. One bad round and you’ve likely shot yourself out of the tournament.    

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“It is startling how much pressure you’re under out here,” Harrington said. “You’ve got to shoot 18 under in three days. That’s a lot of work. Doesn’t matter, you know, you’ve got to hole the putts, you’ve got to hit the wedges close, you’ve got to play some golf to get to 18 under par. You know these guys can play.”

In his seven Champions starts this season, Harrington is a combined 81 under par, and even the majors haven’t provided much letup in terms of the need to fill your card with birdies. Harrington shot 15 under at the Regions Tradition, where he tied for fifth, and 18 under at the Senior PGA, which was good enough to earn him a spot in a playoff that he lost to Steve Stricker. The season’s third major, the U.S. Senior Open, is this week at SentryWorld, in Stevens Point, Wis.

Wins haven’t come easily for Harrington this year, but there’s still plenty of time to rectify that.

“I won four from this period on,” he said of his four-win rookie season a year ago. “I don’t like superstitions or anything like that, but it took me half a year to get going last year, and I won this week.”

Surely more victories are coming, and likely soon.

Alan Bastable Editor

As’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

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