Steve Stricker is the first champion at PGA Frisco after defeating Padraig Harrington in a one-hole playoff to win the 83rd annual KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, the first event held at the new headquarters of the PGA of America.
Stricker entered the final round trailing Harrington by a stroke through three rounds of play but managed to outshoot him during Sunday’s round and win his second major of the year.
“It’s a battle,” Stricker told the media after the final round. “The course showed some teeth at times today. Some difficult pins. Some easy pins. But it was a little crustier, I thought, on the greens. The wind was tricky at times, but it feels great.”
Harrington entered the day holding the lead, which he had held since the end of the first round of play on Thursday, and having shot just one bogey the entire tournament. However, the bogeys piled up during his final round, giving Stricker an opening.
Stricker took his first lead with a birdie on the 11th hole as Harrington managed a par to stay in the hunt.
“[I] hit a good drive and a nice wedge in there,” Stricker said when asked about the hole. “Three feet or so. Again, it seemed like I had a lot of downhill putts today that you just kind of had to coax in there. That was another one, but [I] got that to go.”
Harrington attempted to reclaim the lead throughout the day, but Stricker continued to hold his own.
On the 13th hole, Stricker overshot the green and wound up just beyond the fringe, setting up what looked like a par opportunity. However, his chip from there went straight into the hole for a birdie. Harrington had the chance to keep up, but his birdie putt rolled too far right as Stricker added to his lead.
Harrington finally caught Stricker on the 18th hole, sinking a crucial birdie putt to move to 18-under-par as Stricker struggled to stay on the fairway and missed a putt that would have sealed the win in regulation.
But it was Harrington who would struggle in the playoff, digging a deep hole for himself as his drive landed in the tall grass, and he missed a putt to force the playoff to continue.
Ultimately, Stricker came away victorious.
“Steve is probably the toughest guy you could ever play on a Sunday,” Harrington told the media. “He has to have the best wedge game in the world. Like he’s a fabulous putter, he’s a fabulous chipper, but his wedge play like at the first 14 holes was just spectacular. … It was very impressive.”
Defending champion Steve Alker finished tied for fifth at nine-under-par.
Mark Brown and Tim Weinhart finished with the best scores among the 36 PGA golf club professionals at 6-over-par. Dallas’ Cameron Doan entered the day with the club professionals lead at 1-over-par but shot an 8-over-par during his final round.
The PGA Champions Tour continues its 2023 season with the Principal Charity Classic at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa, next weekend.