Padraig Harrington is looking for a third straight Dick’s Open title on Sunday

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Surprise, surprise. Check out who’s in the lead group Sunday seeking to enhance a spectacular track record in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Padraig Harrington closed a spotless round of 7-under 65 with birdies on En-Joie Golf Course’s final three holes Saturday to take a share of the 36-hole lead. Ken Tanigawa (65) and overnight leader Stephen Ames (69) will accompany Harrington in a group scheduled to leave the first tee at 10:36 a.m. Sunday.

Next-best through two rounds are Bob Estes, Paul Stankowski and Steve Allan, sharing fourth a shot off the top spot, with three others at 9-under. If a quartet at 8-under is within reach, perhaps keep an eye on Miguel Angel Jimenez, whose second-round 68 began with five successive birdies.

Sunday’s weather may not be pretty. Thunderstorms have been forecast with varying degrees of likelihood from early afternoon through the night. Due to that threat, it’ll be a two-tee start with the last groups off at 10:41 a.m.

Harrington’s eight senior tour rounds at En-Joie have all been in the 60s, with a high of 69 to open the 2023 event and a low of 63 to round out his second-consecutive win here. Entering Sunday, he is an aggregate 45 under par – the kind of comfort zone that figures to serve him well in the thick of the moment Sunday.

“Both rounds this week I finished strong. It’s been a bit of a surprise,” he said. “I was a little frustrated probably through nine holes today. My playing partners were going so low, I wasn’t holing the putts. Then, I don’t know if I was patient or things happened to go my way, but it was really nice to come home 5-under.

“This is one of those – there’s obviously a big bunch of people up on the leaderboard, but sometimes you’re three or four shots off the lead, you have a chance going into Sunday, but with so many people on the leaderboard, you really want to be very tightly up there. You want to be if not in the lead, close enough. One of those guys is going to go low tomorrow, so hopefully it will be me.”

Harrington is seeking to become the first player to win the same PGA Tour Champions event three consecutive seasons since Bernhard Langer achieved the feat at the Kaulig Companies Championship (2014-16).

Ames made five birdies – one of the gotta-be-kidding variety from rough left and perilously to the drink at the par-4 15th – against 10th- and 13th-hole bogeys. When holding a 36-hole lead/co-lead in 54-hole events, he is 6-for-9 converting for a win.

“Everything was pretty solid,” he said. “I didn’t make as many putts that I’d like to, not like yesterday, but I think a little bit of the rain kind of changed the greens a little bit because they got a little softer, so we had more footprints through the greens. So, I guess altogether it was a solid round, got it around nicely.”

As for Sunday, given anticipated inclement weather?

“Well, another early start to the week, which is kind of interesting because they said rain today, too, and we never got it, and it had the same on Friday, and we never got it. But we’re getting some tomorrow apparently, so I’m not going to elaborate on that one.”

Round 1 leader Stephen Ames finished 3-under for the day and in a three-way tie for first at 11-under for the Dick’s Open, June 22, 2024.
Tanigawa, who stood 9-under for the day with two eagles through 13 holes, stumbled with a bogey at the 14th and a double at the 15th. He rebounded with birdie at 16.

“I started out great, I got it to 9-under and just hit a lot of good shots, made the putts to capitalize on those good shots,” he said. “Overall, very happy, very good round for myself.”

He hit the first 12 greens in regulation.

“Ball in the fairway, for sure. That always helps, right?,” he said. “I had probably good numbers, which helped. Just when you attack the pins, it kind of makes sense with those numbers, and if not, just kind of hit middle of the greens if you can.”

Odds & Ends

— The start of Round 2 was delayed 45 minutes because of fog.

— Tanigawa’s lone top-10 finish in five previous Dick’s Open starts was a T6 in 2022

— As a PGA Tour rookie, Estes lost in a playoff to Mike Hulbert in the 1989 B.C. Open at En-Joie.

— Chad Campbell withdrew following an opening-round 68 that featured eagles on two of his first five holes, citing the illness of a family member. The 50-year-old Texan was playing his third senior tour event.

Top of the Board

Padraig Harrington 68-65 – 133

Ken Tanigawa 68-65 – 133

Stephen Ames 64-69 – 133

Bob Estes 70-64 – 134

Paul Stankowski 67-67 134

Steve Allan 65-69 – 134

Ken Duke 69-66 – 135

Mike Weir 68-67 – 135

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek