BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan – Padraig Harrington rallied from three shots behind to win the U.S. PGA Championship and his third major title on Sunday.
In closing with a 4-under 66 at Oakland Hills club, the Irishman became only the fourth player to win the British Open and U.S. PGA in the same year.
If the winner was familiar, so was the finish.
Harrington shot a 32 on the back nine, just as he did at Royal Birkdale last month, and he came up with three big putts down the stretch. He made a 12-foot par on the 16th to catch Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis, took the lead with an 8-foot birdie on the par-3 17th, then closed out the Spaniard with an 18-foot par for a two-shot victory.
"I think I was willing them into the hole at that stage," Harrington said. "You have to get focused and give it a go."
Garcia was poised to finally prove he could win a major, leading by one shot in the middle of the 16th fairway. But he hit 6-iron into the water and had to scramble for bogey, then missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 17th to fall one shot behind. His 6-foot par putt didn't matter when Harrington rolled in his par putt to finish at 3-under 277.
"I feel like I gave it my best," said Garcia, a runner-up in a major for the third time.
Curtis lost a chance to validate his shocking victory in the 2003 British Open. He bogeyed two of the final four holes for a 71, but came away with a big consolation. His tie for second was enough to move him up to No. 7 in the U.S. standings and qualify for the Ryder Cup.
Harrington wasn't even in the picture on Sunday morning when players returned to Oakland Hills to resume the third round, some of them playing 36 holes. He was 4 over after nine holes, then ran off four straight birdies on the back nine for a 66 to get into contention going into the final 18.
With another major at stake under gloomy skies, Harrington simply shined.
And for the second straight year, Garcia suffered.
Harrington rallied from six shots behind last year to beat Garcia in a playoff at Carnoustie. This time, he spotted the Spaniard three shots when they made the turn and made four birdies over the back nine.