Darren Clarke shot an opening-round 65 in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic on Friday to take the overnight lead and set himself up for his second victory in the last month. Instead, it was Padraig Harrington who drank from the winner’s chalice in Endicott, N.Y. for the second time in a month’s time.
Harrington was right on Clarke’s heels, shooting 66 on Friday. Clarke receded with 72 on Saturday but Harrington kept on plugging away, his subsequent weekend rounds of 67 proving good enough for a three-stroke victory over Thongchai Jaidee. Clarke, who shot 69 on Sunday, settled for a share of sixth place, six strokes off the winning number.
Harrington began the event in similar fashion to his opening round in the previous week’s Boeing Classic, although there were fewer bogeys this time around. He birdied four of his first five holes, only to give two strokes back with double bogey at the par-3 seventh. He then birdied five of the next nine holes, with just one bogey to offset.
Bogeys were almost unknown to Harrington over the weekend, his only miscue coming at 18 on Saturday. He opened up his winning margin by the time he reached the back nine on Sunday and had only to keep himself out of trouble to stay on top. He almost found a heap of trouble at 15, though, when his tee shot sailed into the right rough, amidst the trees. He got out of there and was able to save par.
“Fifteen, that shot out of the trees was probably important, the up and down,” Harrington said. “Mike [Weir, his playing partner] could have made birdie, I could have made bogey or worse and could have turned it around there. But outside of that, was solid all day, got the right breaks at the right time and holed the right putts.”
Harrington now trails only Steven Alker on the Charles Schwab Cup money list. He isn’t letting up, either. He’s scheduled to play this week’s Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Mich. Clarke, however, is taking the week off.
Then there was one.
Rory McIlroy remains as the lone Irish representative in the FedEx Cup playoffs despite a nonthreatening eighth-place finish in the BMW Championship in Wilmington, Del.
The 2022 season has ended for Shane Lowry and Seamus Power, who didn’t crack the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list after the conclusion of this tournament. Lowry took a share of 12th place in the BMW and was the unfortunate soul to occupy 31st place on the points list. Power finished 65th in the BMW and 42nd on the points list.
McIlroy shot rounds of 68, 68, 70 and 69 to finish nine strokes under par and five behind the victorious Patrick Cantlay. He never gave the impression that he had a victory charge in him. In fact, he was a stroke over par for his final round until he birdied 16, 17 and 18.
McIlroy’s big moment came on Saturday when some yahoo dropped a
remote-controlled golf ball onto the 15th green and tried to direct it into the cup. McIlroy twice swatted the ball away and then picked it up and threw it into the greenside lake.
A two-time winner of the FedEx Cup, McIlroy will report to East Lake in Atlanta for this week’s Tour Championship, an event he has also won twice, most recently in 2019. He stands seventh on the points list.
Lowry started the tournament with a round of 66 and would be joining McIlroy in Atlanta had his play over the next three days approached that. Instead, he followed with two rounds of even-par 71 and 68 on Sunday. A three-putt bogey at 17 on Sunday proved penal as Lowry straddled the top-30 line.
Fortune seemed to smile on Lowry late in the round as Adam Scott was left with a nearly impossible shot from the edge of a deep bunker that required him to address the ball while standing in the bunker with the ball on the grass at about knee-level. Somehow, Scott turned a certain bogey (or worse) into par and knocked Lowry out of the playoffs.
“It was so weird out there today,” Lowry said after Sunday’s round. “It was like trying to make a cut on a Sunday and I’m also trying to do well in the tournament.”
Lowry has never gotten to the Tour Championship in his years on the PGA Tour, which he attributes to his overseas schedule and the consequent inability to rack up points in those events.
“All in all, I suppose I still have to look at positives from today and this season,” Lowry said. “I think it’s been a pretty good year for me. I’ve only played 18 events on the PGA Tour [this season], and to be in this position is pretty good.”
Power got off to a decent enough start in Wilmington with rounds of 71 and 68. He lost his way over the weekend, however, shooting 77 and 75.
IRISH PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Birdies at 17 and 18 helped Damien McGrane clinch his third victory in this event. He stood two strokes atop Brian McElhinney after rounds of 70, 69 and 69 at Wild Atlantic Dunes in Belmullet, Co. Mayo. He finished 54 holes eight strokes under par.
McGrane made his task tougher with a double-bogey 7 at 13, but he immediately got a stroke back at 14 and sealed the title over the final two holes.
This is McGrane’s third victory in this event. He previously won in 2016 at Moyvalley and in 2019 at Bunclody.
This is McElhinney’s second stint as runner-up. You have to go all the way back to 2009, when he finished seven strokes in back of Padraig Harrington for his previous turn in this spot. He was unable to make anything happen over the back nine, posting just a bogey coming in.
Another four strokes back in joint-third were Simon Thornton and Richard Kilpatrick. Defending champion David Higgins finished in eighth place, 10 strokes behind McGrane.
DP WORLD TOUR
From seemingly out of nowhere, Cormac Sharvin produced his best performance of the year, working out a share of 13th place in the rain-abbreviated Czech Masters. Sharvin, who just celebrated his 30th birthday, had missed 13 consecutive cuts upon arriving in Prague. He fired rounds of 71, 69 and 66 to finish the 54-hole event 10 strokes under par and six off the winning score of Maximilian Kieffer.
A glimpse of what has been holding Sharvin back was on display during the third round. He got off to an exceptionally quick start with birdie at four of his first five holes. After an eagle-3 at 12, he was eight under for the round and ensconced in the top 10 on the leaderboard. Beginning at 14, he rattled off three bogeys, offset by just one birdie.
All in all, though, a promising effort from someone who is looking at spending next year on the Challenge Tour. Sharvin, did, however, jump 68 places on the Tour Rankings up to 229th. He’ll need a few more weeks like this one to reach the top 123 and retain his card for 2023.
David Carey received an invitation to play and made good use of it through the first 36 holes, shooting 71 and 70 to make the cut by two strokes. A final-round 80 took some of the shine off that, however. Despite the high number, he had five birdies on that card. But they were no match for the seven bogeys, along with a double and a quad at the par-3 16th. The latter involved water, lots and lots of water.
John Murphy moved up three pegs to 26th place on the Road to Mallorca by virtue of finishing tied for 22nd place in the Dormy Open in Stockholm. Symmetrical rounds of 72, 68, 72 and 68 left him seven strokes off the winning score belonging to Emilio Cuartero Blanco.
Murphy made up ground late on Sunday after a spate of three bogeys on the front nine. He reversed that trend with six birdies over the final 11 holes.
Tom McKibbin missed the cut here by four strokes after rounds of 73 and 74. He drops to 16th on the Road to Mallorca. Ruaidhri McGee dropped three spots to 36th after rounds of 72 and 76 left him on the outside looking in for the weekend.