Padraig Harrington celebrated a sensational return to winning form in the Anniversary 30th PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda when he powered to a $600,000 victory over US Open champion Webb Simpson, Masters champion Bubba Watson and defending champion Keegan Bradley.
Harrington, who earned his biggest cheque since finishing tied second in the 2009 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, captured his first title since 2010 in Malaysia by attaching a second round 67 on the Port Royal Golf Course to his opening 66 for a winning 36-hole nine under par aggregate of 133 – one ahead of Simpson, who shot a best of the day 65, and six in front of Watson (71) and Bradley (67).
The 41-year-old Irishman, winner of 26 tournaments worldwide, produced immaculate golf from tee to green and found his touch on the putting surfaces as he took his birdie haul in two days to twelve.
Harrington, one of only 12 players in 2012 to make the halfway cut in all four Major Championships which included tying fourth and eighth in the US Open and Masters Tournament respectively, only received his call-up last Saturday as a late-replacement for injured Open Champion Ernie Els – but the 6,500 mile round journey enabled him to become only the second European golfer to win the title following Ian Woosnam’s success in 1991.
“I was told that last night and I was surprised about it considering some great European players have competed over the years in this event,” said Harrington, who lost play-offs for the Grand Slam, hosted by the Bermuda Department of Tourism, Port Royal Golf Club and The Fairmont Southampton, in his Major Championship winning years of 2007 and 2008. “I’m very happy to have followed Woosie. This was unfinished business for me after those two play-off losses.
“And it feels really good. I have not won in a while and it would be a nice habit to get back into. When it happens, you’ve got to enjoy it and we’ll be doing that tonight.
“I’m playing really good golf. There is some good stuff in my game right now; and there’s other stuff I need to tidy-up. I have realised with experience that wins do not come around as often as you would like. But I believe I’m going into a nice period in my career.
“This is a very important win. It was the right thing to come here and play; it’s a bonus to have won. But it feels good; really good. And the feeling out there down the stretch was the same as you would have on a Sunday. You’ve got a lead, you don’t want to mess up, you don’t want to be too cautious. But I felt very comfortable, and I didn’t make a bogey until the last by which time the tournament was mine.”
Harrington started the second round two and three shots ahead of Watson and Simpson respectively. He drove the green at the 380-yards fifth, two putting for his first birdie of the day, then saved par from eight feet at the next before holing a monster 35-footer down the green at the eighth to be out in 34 and one ahead of Simpson, who had four birdies in six holes from the third to turn in 32, and two in front of Watson, out in 34.
Three straight birdies from the 11th gave Harrington a comfortable cushion – he hit a majestic six iron second to four feet at the 11th, chipped to a similar distance after almost driving the green at the 383-yards 12th then holed from ten feet at the next after another lovely six iron approach. He kept his score intact with an eight foot putt at the treacherous 16th and confessed: “That was a very good putt to hole under pressure and ensured I had a three shot lead over Webb with two to play. Then it was a question of batten down the hatches and get to the clubhouse.”
Harrington will now tee-up in the Barclays Singapore Open and UBS Hong Kong Open in which he will seek to improve his current Race to Dubai ranking of 30th prior to competing in the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on November 22-25.