Padraig Harrington won for the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2008 PGA Championship by parring the second playoff hole to beat rookie Daniel Berger in a Monday finish in the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The 43-year-old Harrington hit his tee shot to within four feet on the climactic hole and missed the putt, but it didn’t matter because Berger, 21, hit his tee ball on the par-3 17th into the water.
“I found something in my mental game last week and stuck with it,” said Harrington, who said he was confident he was turning things around when he won the Indonesian Open late last year. “That’s been the problem. I’ve been keen about my form several times in the last few years and I played well in 2012, but I had the yips.
“It’s been mental, but I found a mental edge that has been lacking and I believe (again) that when I get into contention I can win. I can hit the tough shots. I don’t think this is just an isolated victory.”
Harrington held a one-stroke lead on the same 17th hole during regulation, but hit his tee shot into the water to make a double-bogey 5. Then he rammed home a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to complete a closing even-par 70 and force the playoff.
Berger, 21, the local favorite out of Florida State, chipped in for birdie from 64 feet on the 11th hole as darkness closed in Sunday night, then birdied the last two holes of regulation to close with a 64.
“This was a great learning experience,” said Berger, who is from nearby Plantation, Fla. “I’ve never been in this position before. It was awesome and I can only get better from it. The putt I had on No. 18 was the most nervous I’ve ever been.”
Ian Poulter of England, who seemed to be in control after shooting 64-66 in the middle rounds, hit five balls into the water in the final round to finish with a 74, and was one shot out of the playoff in a tie for third with Paul Casey, also of England, and Russell Knox of Scotland, who both had 68s.
Jamie Donaldson of Wales finished two strokes back in solo sixth after a 66, while Patrick Reed struggled down the stretch to a 73 and wound up another shot behind in a tie for seventh with Jeff Overton (69), first-round leader Jim Herman (69) and Luke Donald of England (67).