Harrington Off to the Races with 8-under Opening Round
Padraig Harrington knows exactly what it takes to win the PGA Championship. And since turning 50 he’s had plenty of success on PGA Tour Champions, too.
But after the opening round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, he’s off to a record-setting start and is in a prime position to lift the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy at the end of the week.
Harrington shot an 8-under 64 Thursday morning in Frisco, TX, to take the early lead – and set the competitive course record at Fields Ranch East in the process.
.@padraig_h shoots the course record at Fields Ranch East! #SrPGAChamp pic.twitter.com/DUeD8zKvSg— KitchenAid Senior PGA Champ (@seniorpgachamp) May 25, 2023
“I just watched a guy dismantle this place,” Harrington’s playing partner, Rocco Mediate, said.
Harrington, who won the 2008 PGA Championship, birdied three of his first six holes before adding another circle on the scorecard on the par-4 9th.
He added another on No. 10 before making birdie on Nos. 15, 16, and 18 – for good measure – to close out his day. Harrington wasn’t sure if he would attack the long par-5 finisher, but he did Thursday and was rewarded for it.
“It's an awkward tee shot. But when good things are happening for you, you got it keep going,” Harrington said. “If (maybe) I was 2-under par and I hadn't been playing well, I probably would have been more conservative. But I took the attitude, ‘Hey, things are falling in place today, they will probably fall in place here too.’”
Harrington said to get off to such a good start in the opening round was key to his early momentum. His birdie on the second hole came from about 35 feet, and he two-putted the next hole, a par five, for another birdie.
“And then all of a sudden I'm off and running, creating chances,” Harrington said. “So, I think that it, if I'm looking for something that could have made a difference to the day was that putt on the 2nd hole. It was 35 feet, in she goes, I'm off and running.”
Harrington also chipped in for birdie on No. 10 to start his tidy back-nine stretch.
The affable Irishman came into the week at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship after a made-cut at Oak Hill Country Club and the 105th PGA Championship. Harrington admitted he was “at least a week short” in his preparation for Oak Hill, but since he had a full week of competing against the best in the world he now feels extra prepared for this week.
“I felt I was getting into it last week, but I wasn't there. I need to do a better job when I'm away from tournaments […] My preparation is not ideal. So last week it definitely helped me get where I am today, no doubt about it,” Harrington said.
Being paired with Mediate was also a big help for Harrington. Long known as one of the best talkers on Tour, Harrington said chatting along with Mediate and his caddie allowed him to feel freed up for a nice opening day at PGA Frisco.
“In some ways the reason it was an easy 64 is because when you're playing with somebody like Rocco there's always a bit of chat and there's always a bit of fun going on, so you're quite relaxed,” Harrington said.
“There was just plenty of conversation. And you end up shooting 64 and you go, ‘Oh, what,’ You know, you'd nearly forgotten about your score.”
The good news for Harrington is that the leaderboard hasn’t forgotten about his score. And through the middle of the afternoon Thursday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship that score is the best of anyone.