Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won his first US PGA title in seven years yesterday, defeating 21-year-old American rookie Daniel Berger in a playoff to capture the storm-hit Honda Classic.
The 43-year-old Dubliner, a three-time major champion who has fallen to 297th in the world rankings, withstood a dramatic morning shootout for the $1.098 million (Dh4m) top prize.
“The last nine holes I felt like a different person,” Harrington said. “I think I’ve found that mental edge I’ve been lacking the past couple of years. Hopefully this isn’t an isolated win.”
Harrington found the water at the par-3 17th in regulation for a double bogey but sank a tensionpacked 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole to force the playoff, matching Berger on six-under 274 over 72 holes.
Both began the playoff with pars at 18 and then at 17, Harrington put his 5-iron tee shot four feet from the cup while Berger found the water. That allowed the Irishman to two putt for the title.
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“I was pretty keen on my own form at different stages but I wasn’t delivering,” Harrington said. “Last week I found something in the mental game, which is what has been going wrong.
“I felt a lot better on the course. I came out this week and 50 percent of the time I was at peace with myself. My mindset is maybe I can do it better in the future.”
Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey and Scotland’s Russell Knox missed the playoff by a stroke, sharing third on 275, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson another shot adrift and England’s Luke Donald joining Americans Jeff Overton, Jim Herman and Patrick Reed on 277.
Harrington won the 2007 and 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA Championship, the last of those being his most recent PGA victory, although he also won the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Open last December.
Berger, whose father coached the 2012 US Olympic tennis squad and is helping guide the US Davis Cup team in Scotland this week, missed a 13-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole for the win in only his 12th PGA start.
“That putt on 18 was the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Berger said. “I played a great final round. I did the best I could but I couldn’t quite win. It was a great learning experience.”
Berger, who closed a final-round 64 with back-to-back birdies, would have been the youngest winner in the event’s 43-year history.
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