FRISCO, TX — Padraig Harrington he did not intend the PGA Championship to be a fine-tuning to the senior version a week later.
It could go like this.
Harrington shot 8-under 64 on Thursday in the first round of competition at PGA of America’s new headquarters in Texas to take a two-shot lead in the Senior PGA Championship.
The 51-year-old Irishman finished 7th at Oak Hill with a score of 8 over 43 in the top nine on Saturday. A par instead of that wayward nine would have meant a top 20 finish, but Harrington didn’t see it that way.
“I was at least a week short in preparation,” said Harrington. “I felt like I was into it last week, but I wasn’t there. I need to do a better job when I’m away from tournaments. So last week has definitely helped me get to where I am today, no doubt It.”
Japanese Katsumasa Miyamoto shot 66 and Brazilian Adilson da Silva he had a 67 in his Senior PGA debut for both. Philip Price he also shot a 67 at PGA Frisco’s Fields Ranch East, about 35 miles north of Dallas.
Stewart’s Zinc was in a big group, another shot in his first PGA Tour Champions start four days after turning 50. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert KarlssonTomasz Bjorn, Alex Cejka, Charlie Wi AND Richard Green joined Cink with 68s.
Justyna Leonardsearching for his first major near where the 50-year-old grew up in Dallas, he scored 71.
Harrington made a long birdie putt on the par-4 second hole and landed another birdie on the par-10. He went about two feet on par-4-16 and got up and stepped off the edge behind the green for a par-5-18 birdie.
Game partner Rocco Mediatewho was ecstatic at his 69 years, said Harrington “took apart” the track that would host the PGA Championship in 2027 and 2034, and possibly the Ryder Cup in the late 1930s.
Harrington appreciated how chatty Mediate was during the round, as much as he did with reporters afterwards. (“Then go to guy 64,” Mediate said as he finished in the players’ audition tent with Harrington watching from the sidelines.)
“In a way, the reason why 64 was easy is because when you’re playing with someone like Rocco, there’s always a little chat and there’s always a little bit of fun, so you’re pretty relaxed,” said Harrington. “There were just lots of conversations. And you end up shooting a 64 and you’re like, ‘Oh, what, you know,’ you almost forgot your score.”
Harrington won four times in his Champions League debut last year, including the US Senior Open and the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. He has four top ten finishes in five starts this season.
Starting with the back nine, Miyamoto opened with 32 which included a bogey before getting two birdies on his back nine.
“I started with birdie, birdie, birdie, such a cool beat,” Miyamoto said. “The first tee shot is very nervous, but do a birdie, so relax a bit. This field is really hard. Uneven is hard.”
Among the first finishers were two aces. Dave McNabb he tallied his 161-yard eighth hole en route to a 78 for the Pennsylvania club professional.
Corey Pavin he had one for 183 yards No. 4 when his shot bounced off the front edge of the green and rolled about 40 feet into the cup. The 1995 US Open champion scored 71.
Cink was the first to hit par-5, his 10th hole of the day, after his second shot landed five feet away. His round included five birdies and three bogeys.
The 2009 British Open champion said he keeps in touch with his peers who have already moved onto the championship circuit, but rarely sees them. Until now.
“I understand why guys really enjoy playing PGA Tour Champions. It’s great fun,” said Cink. “And after you’ve been in the grind for a long time – there’s a grind here too, the guys are playing great. But here it’s just grinding with a smile.”