Padraig Harrington pulls off three-peat at Dick’s Sporting Goods Open: ‘It’s very exciting’

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The outcome, of course, made for a magnificent third consecutive Dick’s Sporting Goods Open victory. As for Padraig Harrington’s body of work through Sunday’s closing round? Let’s label that appropriately workmanlike.

The affable Irishman played En-Joie’s back nine in even-par, nevertheless posted a single-stroke win over Mike Weir to leave him 3-for-3 in Endicott since celebrating a 50th birthday.

Harrington closed with 4-under 68 to finish the 54-hole event 15-under, with Weir coming in at 67. Third place was shared by Mark Hensby (66), Ken Duke (68) and Ken Tanigawa (70) at 13-under.

Stephen Ames, 36-hole co-leader on rounds of 64 and 69, faded from realistic contention on the back and shared sixth after a 71.

“It’s very exciting,” Harrington said. “Coming into the week people say, ‘Oh, are you going to do a three-peat,’ and it’s a lot easier to say it than do it. So yeah, I was trying to keep my expectations dab even though I do like the golf course. I know it suits me. I think it was managing other people’s expectations and trying to keep myself in a nice place.

“I probably didn’t play as well on Wednesday and Thursday as I would have wanted it, but I got gradually better as the tournament went on. Certainly today on a windier day it was a tricky day to be out in the last group. I certainly got a few good breaks. A few things went against me, but I got a few good breaks as well to even out the day. It was just my day.”

As for that back nine?

He opened by inexplicably chopping his second from the middle of the 10th fairway into the drink and made bogey, and his lone birdie thereafter came via a superb drive and approach finessed prudently to a bit above the hole at 15.

At the come-and-get-me 16th, he ground out par from well past the green near the 17th tee box. At 17, he yanked a 9-iron tee ball but got up and down from nasty rough left, holing a putt of seven or so feet. At the last – with Weir having posted 14-under – Harington carried his drive 317 yards to an ideal position and proceeded to uneventfully two-putt.

“I was really trying to make one more birdie,” he said. “I knew I had a one-shot lead, but if I could get it to two shots, I felt that’s comfortable. I was going after it on 16 and we were thinking 3-wood. Then we said, ‘Well, get driver to the back of the green.’ And obviously I pitched on hardpan rather than the soft part, went long and I was in – I wasn’t in the worst place in the world, but it was awkward when you’re leading the tournament.

“I think if I was one shot back, I would have given that a much better effort to get that up and down, but I was more concerned about not taking 5. And 17 was a little lapse in concentration; I was just drawing it into the pin, and I changed my target at the last moment and snatched that a bit.”

Weir, who assuredly will rue a shorty for par misfired at the 13th, made six birdies against that lone toe-stub. He has finished second in two goes at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Harrington, who made eagle at the third and birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth:

— Made it eight wins on PGA Tour Champions in his 41st start at the age of 52 years, 9 months, 23 days.

— Joins Ames (2) and Ernie Els (2) as multiple winners this season.

— Became the first player to win the same PGA Tour Champions event in three consecutive seasons since 2014 DSGO winner Bernhard Langer at the Kaulig Companies Championship (2014-16).

Endicott, no doubt, will remain special to Harrington.

“This is what the Champions Tour is all about,” he said. “When we come to venues like this, Broome County, old PGA Tour stops, dare I say it being outgrown or forgotten about, they really come out for the Champions Tour. They love their golf, they come out, they have a great sponsor in Dick’s. The whole community, the fans come out, and we love being here.

“It’s great for us as players, we get to relive our past glories, hit shots under pressure, under stress, some good, some bad, so it’s really a perfect Champions Tour event. You have the atmosphere, you feel like you’re a kid back in the old days.”

Odds & Ends

— With birdies on six of his first nine holes (1-3 and 7-9), Hensby closed his first Dick’s Open with a 6-under 66 to finish T3 at 13-under. He played En-Joie’s front nine holes in an aggregate 12-under.

— Following a 7-under 65 in Round 2 to share the 36-hole lead at 11-under, Tanigawa closed his sixth Dick’s Open with a 2-under 70 to finish T3.

— In his sixth Dick’s Open start, 36-hole co-leader and Charles Schwab Cup No. 1 Stephen Ames shot 71 to finish T6 at 12-under. The finish becomes his ninth top-10 of the season (13 starts) and first in the Dick’s Open.

Top of The Board

Padraig Harrington 68-65-68 – 201

Mike Weir 68-67-67 – 202

Mark Hensby 70-67-66 – 203

Ken Duke 69-66-68 – 203

Ken Tanigawa 68-65-70 – 203

Billy Andrade 69-67-68 – 204

Miguel Angel Jimenez 68-68-68 – 204

Steve Allan 65-69-70 – 204

Stephen Ames 64-69-71 – 204

Robert Karlsson 70-71-64 – 205

Doug Barron 68-71-66 – 205

Bob Estes 70-64-71 – 205

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek