Oakland Hills Country Club, Michigan
Aug 7-10, purse E4,767,714, par 70
Padraig Harrington claimed a second consecutive Major with victory in the USPGA Championship at Oakland Hills in Michigan. The Irishman fired spectacular closing rounds of 66, 66 to beat 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis and Spain’s Sergio Garcia by two shots.
Harrington is the first European to win the USPGA since Tommy Armour back in 1930 and the first man to claim back-to-back Majors since Tiger Woods in 2006 – He’s the first European to accomplish that feat.
After a second round 74, Harrington had said he was out of steam but a sparkling third round of 66 saw him climb right back into contention. He started the final round just three shots back of Curtis.
The fourth round saw some excellent scoring and none more so than from the paring of Harrington and Garcia. Both men came out firing but it was the Spaniard who started faster making an eagle at the par five second and a birdie at the sixth. At that point the 28-year-old was tied for the lead with Curtis.
Harrington’s round took off around the turn with birdies at the 10th, 12th and 13th to draw level with Garcia at three under. At the 14th Harrington’s approach flew the green and he couldn’t get up-and-down and Garcia once again had a one shot advantage.
On the 15th Garcia hit a superb approach that bounced in and out of the hole but ended up 10 feet away. “Funny enough, I think that Peter Kostis told me it hit the pin and went in the hole and came out,” Garcia said. “So I went and asked him because I saw the ball jump a little bit to the left and I thought, you know, I wanted to know if it was on the green or not and he told me what happened.” Afterwards Harrington?s ball came to rest the same distance from the cup. Both men missed and Garcia held onto his slender advantage.
Things came to a head on the 16th when Garcia?s approach found a watery grave and Harrington’s found sand. Garcia dropped and pitched to the green. Harrington played a poor bunker shot but holed an incredible par putt from 25 feet, Garcia missed. The pair were now tied on two under with Curtis who had birdied the 14th.
Both men fired in great shots to the par three 17th but Harrington showed why he is now a three-time Major winner and Garcia is yet to break his duck when he rolled in his birdie chance and the young Spaniard just missed.
Harrington’s will to win was highlighted on the 18th. After finding sand from the tee he caught his second shot fat and left himself a seven-iron for his third. He rifled that in to 10 feet and holed the putt. It meant Garcia couldn’t catch him.
Curtis needed an eagle two to tie but that was one miracle to many for the American. He had to settle for a tie for second with Garcia. “I guess if you’re going to finish second and they tell you that you qualify for the Ryder Cup, I think that you’ll take it,” he said. “It almost is a victory in itself. It was a goal that I set.
Harrington remains at number three in the World Ranking but his standing as a player has risen dramatically. He’s now being touted as the main rival to Tiger Woods when he returns from injury.
“It’s a big step now to move up now and start competing on a different level. I’ve got Phil, I’ve got Tiger ahead of me.” He said. “I do believe I can improve as a player. There’s plenty of my game to improve.”
After his third runner’s-up finish in a Major Garcia moves to fourth in the World Ranking. He was philosophical about missing out to Harrington again. “It’s not disappointing. Every time you’re out there trying to win a Major, you know, what can you do, there can only be one winner. I’m fine.”
Scotlands Alastair Forsyth and Justin Rose of England were the top Brits finishing in a tie for ninth place.
1 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 71 74 66 66 277 E867,219
T2 Ben Curtis (USA) 73 67 68 71 279 E423,974
T2 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 69 73 69 68 279 E423,974
T4 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 70 68 72 281 E211,986
T4 Camilo Villegas (Col) 74 72 67 68 281 E211,986
6 Steve Flesch (USA) 73 70 70 69 282 E173,444
T7 Phil Mickelson (USA) 70 73 71 70 284 E148,551
T7 Andres Romero (Arg) 69 78 65 72 284 E148,551
T9 Alastair Forsyth (Sco) 73 72 70 70 285 E113,525
T9 Jutin Rose (Eng) 73 67 74 71 285 E113,525
T9 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 68 74 70 73 285 E113,525
T9 Charlie Wi (Kor) 70 70 71 74 285 E113,525
Key Moment: Harrington plays a superb recovery shot on the 18th after finding a bunker from the tee. He rolls in a 15 foot putt for par and victory.
Note: Players marked in bold signifies Titleist ball usage.