Padraig Harrington will head to Augusta National next April now eagerly looking to become the oldest winner of the Masters. In sharing fourth place at the PGA Championship, Harrington qualified for the 2022 Masters in what now will be a first return to Augusta National in seven years since he last drove down Magnolia Lane.
Harrington and fellow Irishman Shane Lowry were together in the same group heading out sharing 24th place for Sunday’s final round of the 103rd PGA Championship. It could have been one of the hundreds of practice rounds the pair have played together either side of ‘The Pond’ except it was the final round of a major and the champion Irish pair tackled the closing 18 holes with zest as though it was their own ‘War along the Shore’, ala the 1991 Ryder Cup, Sunday singles showdown over the Ocean Course in South Carolina.
Their ‘match’ was all-square as they headed to the scorers’ hut, each shooting a round of 69 to be the then joint clubhouse leaders at two-under par but technically sharing sixth place. As the afternoon progressed, Harrington and Lowry moved up to a share of fifth and finally sharing fourth spot and only four shots, after four of the hardest rounds in some years, behind Phil Mickelson.
Unbeknown to Harrington at the time, fourth place earned him an automatic invitation to compete in next April’s Masters. So, at a time of his playing career when Harrington admitted he was already considering life on the senior tour, he’s now heading to Augusta National for the first time since missing the cut in 2015.
“I know in walking away from this week, there’s nothing stopping me in my golf swing,” said Harrington post Sunday’s PGA Championship, a highest majors showing since also sharing fourth in the 2012 US Open.
“I’m swinging the club well enough and I hit the golf ball well enough and I hit it far enough to compete. Give me the right conditions, as I probably needed the right conditions even back in my own heyday, and I will be competitive, no doubt about it.
“We all dream it can happen and we push for that, and it keeps me getting up in the morning. Keeps me practicing. So, this result does add a bit of confidence that, yeah, I’m not too far away, and — especially like when I won my majors, a lot of my major wins came after me seeing some good stuff and being able to build on that, and I do see some good stuff in this week.
“I also was much better focus-wise, much better, over the last couple of weeks. I changed my routine and I got a lot better since then. And going forward, I just need to find that one thing on the putting or whatever and yeah, I could be as physically good a player as I ever was, but there’s a lot more competition these days.”
Jack Nicklaus was aged 46 years, seven months and 23 days when in 1986 he became the oldest winner of the Masters. On Sunday, 10th April, 2022, the final day of the 86th hosting of the Masters, Harrington will be aged 50 years, seven months and 10 days.
IRISH WORLD RANKINGS – POST PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
- No. 9 – Rory McIlroy (Down 2 places)
- No. 44 – Shane Lowry (Up 4)
- No. 141 – Padraig Harrington (Up 116)
- No. 147 – Graeme McDowell (Down 8)
- No. 337 – Seamus Power (Up 5)
- No. 431 – Jonathan Caldwell (Down 5)
- No. 492 – Cormac Sharvin (Down 11)