NEWLY-crowned US PGA champion Padraig Harrington was coming to terms today with the fact he has achieved something his heroes could not – win back-to-back majors in the same year.
Three weeks on from his four-shot victory at Royal Birkdale to record back-to-back Open Championship wins, Harrington was toasting his success in becoming the first European golfer since Scotland’s Tommy Armour in 1930 to win the prestigious PGA Championship.
His two-shot win over Sergio Garcia of Spain and America’s Ben Curtis at Oakland Hills last night made him the first European to win not just the British Open and the PGA Championship in the same year but to win any majors consecutively in the same year.
That is something his multi-major-winning Euro heroes of the 1980s such as Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo never managed.
“Obviously things like that will take time to sink in,” said Harrington. “At the moment, I’m just enjoying the PGA win for the PGA win.
“I really do like the fact that no other European has won two Majors consecutively, though, because obviously I hold a lot of European players who I grew up watching in high esteem.
“To believe that I achieved something that they hadn’t is very special.”
Harrington had gone into last month’s Open struggling with a wrist injury and won by four strokes from Ian Poulter with a dominant back nine in the final round.
He had come into the US PGA in Detroit feeling drained by his Royal Birkdale experience just three weeks previously and even at the halfway stage on Friday night had virtually dismissed his chances of victory, citing mental fatigue after a second-round 74 had left him at five over par for the tournament, six shots back on halfway leader JB Holmes.
Two consecutive rounds of 66 followed and Harrington was asked how he would perform if he came into a major championship feeling 100% fit and on top of his game.
“No, no, no, it doesn’t work like that,” said Harrington with a laugh.
“I actually struggle with things that are comfortable. It’s something that I work with, with (sports psychologist) Bob Rotella. I’m better off; I definitely have a little bit of, I want to be fighting it.
“And that’s why I have done well with things like this week, when I’m not quite on my game. I’ve won many a tournament where I felt I wasn’t swinging as well as I could; and performed poorly sometimes when I felt I was swinging well.
“So I’m a bit, a little bit of a contrast like that. But I’m getting better. As I said at The Open Championship, I did it when I felt good about my game, and that was important to me.”
Chris Hanson shot 67 to finish second, one back from Nick Sargent, from Eastham Lodge, in the PGA North Region’s Crompton & Royton Ladies pro-am.
The Crosland Heath player, who earned £330 for his three under par finish, chose to join the event rather than contest the Selsdon Park Open on the PGA Europro Tour.
Bradley Park’s Jamie Coverley carded 72 for a share of seventh spot,
Others included: 73 - Robert Johnson (Saddleworth). 74 - Allan Cranston (Willow Valley). 80 - Gareth Moore (Hanging Heaton). 81 - David Rishworth (West End).