Padraig Harrington rallied superbly in the final round of his seniors Major debut as a four-under 68 helped him to secure a runner-up finish at the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Alabama.
The 50-year-old bounced back from a rough patch early in his round that saw him compound a double-bogey with a bogey at the next hole, but back-to-back birdies to finish saw him end the week at 15-under-par and as the nearest challenger to runaway winner Steve Stricker.
The former US Ryder Cup captain secured his first win since his health issues at the tail end of last year, romping to a six-shot victory over Harrington at 21-under-par after also closing with his own 68 for his fourth seniors Major triumph, and second at the Regions Tradition.
Indeed, it is no shame for Harrington to finish second given how good his Ryder Cup counterpart was, and he will take countless positives from a third runner-up finish of the still young season – although he will likely hope he will turn one into a victory soon!
On this occasion, he started the day six behind Stricker and, accordingly, he was always playing for second, but after following back-to-back birdies to start his round with that double-bogey, bogey at the fourth and fifth, his round looked to have hit the buffers.
But the Dubliner bounced back strongly with another pair of back-to-back birdies at the eighth and ninth and then added another at the par-four 11th to reach two-under for the day.
And he would go on to secure second place with three birdies in his last four holes – at the 15th, 17th and 18th, around a bogey at the 16th – as he posted the clubhouse target at 15-under.
That was always going to be bettered by the steady Stricker, though, who set about closing out a wire-to-wire win with a professional final round that contained no mistakes and four birdies – two of which came at the final two holes – for a procession down the back nine.
It was also a good final day for Darren Clarke, who finished in a share of 13th after a five-under 67 in his fourth round that contained five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle three on his final hole to end his week at 10-under-par.
The Dungannon man had looked to be heading for a poor week after opening with rounds of 72 and 71, but weekend tallies of 68 and 67 secured him a highly respectable result that he will hope can be a catalyst to kickstart his lacklustre season thus far.
Harrington now heads to Southern Hills this week for the US PGA Championship off the back of another hugely promising performance looking to back up last year’s impressive display at Kiawah Island where he finished fourth.
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