Clarke and Harrington get into Major gear at Regions Tradition

Mark McGowan

Padraig Harrington (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Along with the senior editions of the PGA Championship, , The Players, US Open and Open Championship, the Regions Tradition Championship at Birmingham, Alabama’s Greystone Golf and Country Club completes the senior major championship circuit.

With Darren Clarke as the reigning Senior Open champion, and Padraig Harrington capturing the senior US Open, two of the five titles currently lie in Irish hands and both will be keen to make that three of the five this week in Alabama.

Typically a 54-hole format, the five majors are played over 72 holes, ordinarily giving the advantage to the younger competitors in the field and those who are still active on the main PGA or DP World circuits.

In preparation for this week’s event, Padraig Harrington has been playing a limited schedule on the Champions circuit, choosing instead to play his early season golf on the DP World and PGA Tours, where he began with a T4 finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship before going on to make all three cuts when he crossed the Atlantic and posting a best result of T10 at the Valero Texas Open.

Clarke has been focusing on the senior circuit, and though he’d launch his season with a T2 finish in Hawaii, has since gone off the boil a little, struggling for consistency within rounds and on a day-to-day basis.

Steve Stricker is the defending champion, capturing the 2019 staging as well, before adding to his senior resume with the Senior US Open title later that year and then victorious in the 2021 Senior Players to bring his Senior Major haul to four.

Bernhard Langer, of course, is still chasing sole possession of the Champions Tour win record which he currently shares with Hale Irwin on 45. Langer is an 11-time Senior Major winner, and the only player in the field to boast the Senior grand slam, but thanks to his recent success and clear liking for the course, Stricker starts as favourite with the bookmakers.

“I’ve had some success here and I enjoy the layout,” Stricker said. “You have to take care of your ball, there’s a lot of water that comes into play, and a lot of elevation changes so you have to pay attention, keep it in the fairway, and knock it on the greens. The course is always in great shape, I enjoy the area, and the warm weather, this is our really our first warm weather event of the year. It’s nice to be here and get loose.

“It’s always nice to be back, they do a great job every year with the tournament. Today in our pro-am there was a lot of people that came out and supported it, a lot of celebrities. They do it right here, it’s fun, and it’s fun to be back.”

Tee times…

Harrington plays the first two rounds in the company of Mark Hensby and Vijay Singh with the trio off at 15.55. Clarke is grouped with Paul Broadhurst and Retief Goosen at 16.39.

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