ENDICOTT, N.Y. — Padraig Harrington played his final seven holes in 7 under par, a stunning finish for a 9-under 63 to successfully defend his title in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open with a 1-shot victory on Sunday.
Harrington was going nowhere at the En-Joie Golf Club with a pair of three-putt bogeys and another three-putt par. But he made a bold par save on the 11th that sent the Irish player on his way to his first PGA Tour Champions title this year.
Harrington birdied the next four holes, made eagle on the reachable par-4 16th, followed with a 6-foot birdie on the 17th and then finished with a par to hold off Joe Durant (66).
Durant finished with six straight pars. Ernie Els needed a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff. Instead, he made bogey for a 68 to finish alone in third.
Harrington became the first back-to-back winner since the tournament became part of the PGA Tour Champions schedule in 2007. Brad Faxon won back-to-back in 1999 and 2000 when it was the B.C. Open on the PGA Tour.
Next up for Harrington are hopes for another repeat — he defends his title next week in the U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld in Wisconsin.
The key for Harrington was getting up and down from 30 yards away in a bunker on the 11th, making an 8-foot par putt.
“It went from feeling like everything was going against you to, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad.’ Obviously, I wasn’t thinking about winning at that stage. I was thinking about just trying to make as many birdies,” Harrington said. “When I started making them, yeah, then I started thinking about it when I got three or four of them. But it was a bonus, obviously, to make eagle.”
Harrington hit 3-wood on the 293-yard 16th to about 15 feet for an eagle to catch Durant, and the birdie on the 17th gave him the lead for good.
Els also drove the 16th green with a 3-wood, but he was almost 50 feet right of the hole. His eagle putt rolled just past the cup. He made the next for his only birdie on the back nine.