Seamus Power pictured after winning the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. PGA TOUR
By John Manley
As Seamus Power holed out for birdie and a round of 67 at the 72nd hole of the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace in Nicholasville, Kentucky, he had no idea of the unraveling that was taking place behind him nor could he have guessed that he would make several more visits to the 18th green before his day was done. When it was all finished, Power was hoisting the trophy, his first on golf’s premier circuit.
Power, a 34-year-old Waterford man, had been knocking on the door over the last two months. He brought five consecutive top-20 finishes into the Barbasol, the last two of which were top 10s. There was no let-up in this event as he began with a bogey-free 65, followed by rounds of 68 and 67 to set him up for a Sunday rally to overcome J.T. Poston, who led by three strokes.
Poston extended his lead over Power to five strokes mid-round on Sunday but got wobbly starting at the 15th hole, where his drive landed out of bounds by an inch, forcing him to take on a penalty stroke. He took double bogey there and bogey at 16.
Another rival that accommodated Power’s rally was James Hahn, who shot 60 on Saturday. He, too, ran into late trouble with bogeys at 17 and 18, leaving him two strokes off the 21-under-par that Power and Poston struck for the playoff.
The sudden-death playoff ran six holes. They played the par-4 18th hole twice, then the par-3 ninth hole twice, and then back to 18 until Power prevailed. He enjoyed some good fortune at 18 in the first extra stanza when his approach shot went a bit long and began to trickle down toward the water. The tall grass stopped it, however, and Power then pitched in for birdie, which Poston matched with his putter.
Those would be the only birdies of the playoff rounds. Power, who earned the right to tee off first, missed the green with his tee shot on their first return to the ninth hole, but Poston did likewise. Poston’s putt for birdie and the win at the fifth playoff hole nestled alongside the cup and refused to drop, affording Power another chance.
The end was definitely in sight when Poston’s drive at 18 on the sixth playoff hole tracked right and dribbled into water. He was hitting three on approach, while Power was on the green in two. When Poston couldn’t sink his birdie putt, all Power needed was two putts for the victory, which came in due course.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle early in the season but I found a bit of form recently,” Power said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Power now moves up to 69th from 123rd in the FedEx Cup standings. He also climbed from 210th to 113th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He will also be exempt through the 2023 PGA Tour season.
[caption id="attachment_115621" align="alignnone" width="300"] Shane Lowry, the defending champion at the British Open, had to settle for a share of 12th.
Shane Lowry’s defense of the Claret Jug came up short as he finished joint-12th at Royal St. Georges, nine strokes behind new champion Collin Morikawa. Nerves may have played a part in the two bogeys he picked up on the first two holes to open the event on Thursday, but he settled down and posted 71, one stroke over par.
Lowry began a run on Friday, when he shot 65, combining six birdies and just one bogey. Consecutive rounds of 69 over the weekend kept him on the far side of contention. Three birdies (with a bogey in their midst) to finish off the front nine on Sunday offered a glimmer of hope that something marvelous could happen but he bogeyed 10 and then played evenly coming in, without a birdie or bogey.
“I really enjoyed the whole week,” Lowry said after Sunday’s round. “It was an amazing experience. Walking down the last hole today was one of the coolest things you’ll ever get to do, and I got to do it. I obviously would have liked to have finished a little bit better but it’s a pretty nice result in a big tournament and another good performance.”
Rory McIlroy had an indifferent sort of week, posting rounds of 70, 70, 69 and 71 to finish tied for 46th place, 15 strokes behind Morikawa. He attributed his finish here to “mental errors.”
“I’ve made 17 birdies this week, which is more than enough to challenge to win this golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “It’s just I made too many mistakes, and that’s the part I need to try to get right.”
Padraig Harrington made the cut by two strokes, due in large part to a run of four birdies over six holes on the back nine on Friday. Those rounds of 72 and 68 were followed by 73 and 71 on the weekend. He finished four strokes over par and had 72nd place to himself.
Darren Clarke’s return to the scene of his greatest triumph started well enough with a first-round 71. Friday’s 75 was his ticket out of the tournament. The par-4 10th hole cost him four strokes over the two days.
For more of the weekend's sports, go to the print/digital edition of the Irish Echo, out Wednesday.