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Harrington Wins PGA, Holmes Shoots Final Round 81

Padraig Harrington rallied
from three shots behind Sunday to win the PGA Championship, closing
with a 4-under 66 at Oakland Hills to become only the fourth player
to win the British Open and PGA in the same year.
If the winner was familiar, so was the finish.
Harrington shot a 32 on the back nine, just as he did at Royal
Birkdale last month, and he came up with three big putts down the
stretch. He made a 12-foot par on the 16th to catch Sergio Garcia
and Ben Curtis, took the lead with an 8-foot birdie on the par-3
17th, then closed out the Spaniard with an 18-foot par for a
two-shot victory.
"I think I was willing them into the hole at that stage,"
Harrington said. "You have to get focused and give it a go."
Kentuckian J.B. Holmes made a triple bogey 7 on the first hole of the final round, shot 43 on the front nine and dropped out of contention. Holmes finished with an 81.
The Irishman ended Europe's 78-year drought in the PGA
Championship, and he joined Tiger Woods, Nick Price and Walter
Hagen as the only players to win the final two majors in the same
year. Woods did it twice, in 2000 and 2006.
Harrington talked about going to another level after winning the
British Open, and he wound up in a class to himself a month later.
He is the first European to win consecutive majors, and now has won
three of the last six.
"That's Tiger-like, right there," Curtis said.
Garcia was poised to finally prove he could win a major, leading
by one shot in the middle of the 16th fairway. But he hit 6-iron
into the water and had to scramble for bogey, then missed a 4-foot
birdie putt on the 17th to fall one shot behind. He hit into the
bunker on the final hole and blasted out to 6 feet, but Harrington
made sure that putt wouldn't matter.
"I obviously came up a little bit short," Garcia said. "But I
guess that's the way things go sometimes. The only thing I can do
is go back home with my head up high and keep working on it."
Harrington, stoic throughout so many stunning shifts in
momentum, finally let loose when his par putt dropped on the 18th.
He pumped his fist twice, then a third time for effect.
Harrington finished at 3-under 277 and earned $1.35 million.
Curtis lost a chance to validate his shocking victory in the
2003 British Open. He bogeyed two of the final four holes for a 71,
but came away with a big consolation. His tie for second was enough
to move him up to No. 7 in the U.S. standings and qualify for the
Ryder Cup.
Garcia moved to No. 3 in the European standings and sewed up a
spot on his fifth straight team.
Harrington wasn't even in the picture Sunday morning when
players returned to Oakland Hills to resume the weather-delayed
third round, some of them playing 36 holes. He was 4 over after
nine holes, then ran off four straight birdies on the back nine for
a 66 to get into contention going into the final 18.
With another major at stake under gloomy skies, Harrington
simply shined.
And for the second straight year, Garcia suffered.
Harrington rallied from six shots behind last year to beat
Garcia in a playoff at Carnoustie. This time, he spotted the
Spaniard three shots when they made the turn and made four birdies
over the back nine.
He knocked in a 15-foot birdie on the 10th, chipped to 3 feet
for birdie on the par-5 12th and caught Garcia with a 12-foot
birdie on the 13th. Garcia, whose birdie-eagle start thrust him
into contention, didn't make a birdie over the final 12 holes.
Garcia accepted defeat far more graciously than at Carnoustie,
although he was terse when asked if he sensed he would win his
first major as he headed to the back nine after two tremendous par
saves.
"Next question, please," he said. "Let's try to keep this as
positive as we can, please."
Harrington lamented a British Open hangover after opening with
rounds of 71-74, unable to concentrate. Maybe the rain delay
Saturday gave him the rest he needed, for his focus returned. He
looked more determined than ever, front teeth pinched forward and
tongue tucked out of the corner of his mouth on every important
shot.


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