The 2008 USPGA Championship at Oakland Hills marked the 90th anniversary of the competition and it was to be a memorable week. The course, dubbed ‘The Monster’, would turn out to be one of the most challenging tests.
Few would have predicted that Ireland’s Padraig Harrington would run out eventual winner after the second round. Harrington went into the weekend on five-over and six shots behind leader J.B. Holmes.
Holmes’ challenge over the weekend fizzled out as he finished the tournament with an 11-over-par 81 on the Sunday. By Sunday morning Harrington had clawed his way back to one-over after an excellent 66 on the Saturday.
He was now only three shots behind the leader after 54 holes, former Open winner Ben Curtis. On the Sunday, Sergio Garcia flew out the traps and into a tie for the lead with Curtis after starting birdie, eagle on this first two holes.
By the end of the front nine Garcia had the outright lead at three-under from Curtis with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson in third. Harrington, meanwhile, had made a solid start and was level for the tournament. However, on the back nine Harrington would produce an incredible display of golf.
Going toe-to-toe with Garcia down the back stretch he birdied the 10th, 12th and 13th. The two Europeans now had a share for the lead. Harrington bogied the 14th while Garcia kept on making pars, but the turning point came at the 16th.
The Irishman looked likely to make another bogey which surely would have seen Garcia win the Wanamaker trophy but then holed a gutsy 12-foot putt for par. At the par-3 17th the pair produced sumptuous long-irons to within 10 feet. Harrington putted first and made birdie. Garcia went second and lipped out.
Going down the last Garcia needed to better Harrington. He couldn’t manage it and made bogey. Harrington managed a par after holing a 16-foot putt and took the trophy. He had shot consecutive rounds of 66 to win, becoming the first European to win two Majors in a year and the first to win the USPGA Championship since Tommy Armour in 1930.