- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Padraig Harrington won the US Senior Open on Sunday by a single stroke.
Harrington entered the final round with a five-stroke lead but was nearly chased down by Steve Stricker.
While Stricker's American side dominated at the Ryder Cup last fall, Harrington got the last laugh on Sunday.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — A Ryder Cup proxy war broke out at the US Senior Open over the weekend, and this time, Europe came out on top.
Through two rounds at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the course had played tough — just 11 players broke par in the first round of action due in part to rainy conditions on Thursday morning. With thick, penal rough and challenging greens across all 18 holes, there was no mistaking it: This was a US Open course.
But after gutting out a solid round through the rainy morning window, and then playing brilliantly bogey-free Friday, most recent Team Europe Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington led most recent Team USA Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker by one as the duo were set as the final pairing heading into moving day.
"It's a much stronger test than I expected. This is way, way tougher than our regular Champions Tour events," Harrington said after two rounds. "I knew this was a big advantage to me starting the week, both length-wise and being able to play from the rough if I am in the rough."
On Saturday, it was Harrington that made the move, posting a five-under round that included five birdies and an eagle to stretch out his lead over the field to five strokes. Stricker's two-over round of 73 left him looking up the leaderboard.
By Sunday morning, it felt possible that Harrington might coast to victory unchallenged. Through nine holes, Harrington's lead on the field had actually stretched to six, but Stricker pushed his way back into the fray with a brilliant finish.
After a middling start to his day, Stricker rushed in six birdies over his final 11 holes to finish a 6-under 65 on the round and put the pressure on Harrington to match him.
While Stricker said he wasn't watching the scoreboard through most of the day, he couldn't help but realize his run had put him in contention. "After I made birdie at 14 I heard someone say, 'Well, we've got a game now,' or something like that. I had a feeling I was getting close, and I was just trying to birdie as many as I could."
Stricker birdied his final two holes of the day, posting a -9 for the tournament and leaving Harrington in a position to match or best his effort.
The three-time major winner was up to the task, with his biggest shot coming on the 15th green. Just a few steps away from the 18th green, where Stricker was lining up a birdie putt to finish his round, Harrington was left with a long, curving putt to secure his lead with a birdie of his own.
"Every guy I've seen in this spot has left this one high," a fan next to me leaned in and said as Harrington took his walk around the green, kneeling here and there to find his read.
Harrington eventually found his look, and struck. He did not leave it high.
—USGA (@USGA) June 26, 2022
The putt pushed Harrington to -10, and after making par on the final three holes of the tournament, it lifted him to his first US Senior Open championship.
After the round, Harrington praised Stricker for his comeback effort.
"It would have to be Steve Stricker chasing me down. Steve, give me a break, please," Harrington joked. "Steve's a tough competitor. Certainly he seems to have one on me over the years. So it's nice to get one back on him this time."
Read the original article on Insider