Pádraig Harrington insists he’s still a Major contender following roller-coaster weekend at PGA

Pádraig Harrington during yesterday’s final round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill CC Photo: Getty Images© Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington might be playing “a minor” at the Senior PGA Championship this week, but he still considers himself a Major player who can contend for US Open and The Open later this summer.

After signing off with a one-under 69 in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill to finish 50th in the clubhouse alongside world No 1 Jon Rahm on seven-over-par, the veteran (51) has no doubt he can still rub shoulders with the young guns if he uses all his experience.

He showed all his heart by coming back from an eight-over par front nine with a three-under back nine in Saturday’s third round 75 and believes he has simply to put his vast knowledge into practice to contend for another Major win.

“There’s nothing physical about me competing in this environment,” he said. “It’s all mental.”

Harrington said he fought so hard on Saturday to follow the worst front nine of the day with the best back nine because it was an opportunity to learn under pressure.

“Look, I have all the answers, but I don’t put them into play,” he said. “I get distracted by shiny things and don’t do the right things at times.

“I do actually know the answers and coming here this week, I’ve got to believe a little bit more in myself and trust myself and, again, just not be seeking perfection as much as I do.”

What’s clear is that despite a host of niggling injuries, he feels like a PGA Tour player who plays Seniors events rather than the other way around.

“No, I still see myself as a player,” he said. “I like trying to win tournaments, and that’s why I like being on the Champions Tour. I can play more events on the Champions Tour because I can play in a cart. It is a genuine struggle for me to do 72 holes, you know, walking-wise.”

This week’s PGA Seniors Championship at PGA Frisco in Dallas offers the reigning US Senior Open champion the chance to win his second senior Major, even though he regards them as lesser events.

“They’re minors,” he said. “These are Majors; they’re minors. They are very nice to win, and I’d be thrilled to win them, and I’m delighted. They’re like any event; they’re great when you go out there and win.

“And it’s exciting. And I feel pressure. There’s no doubt about it. I’d be nervous about a chance to win. But it’s still not a Major. That’s just the way it is.

“I’ll be trying my heart out, and I will feel anxious and nervous when I’m in contention next Sunday. And that’s the way it is. But in the greater scheme of things, let’s call it a minor.”

​The Ryder Cup is still 130 days away, but the presence of more LIV players on the leaderboard in a Major, led by Brooks Koepka, had US skipper Zach Johnson dancing around the issue at Oak Hill yesterday.

Asked if he would feel comfortable having Koepka or any LIV player in his team, Johnson was in full deflection mode.

“I think it’s too premature, frankly irresponsible, to even have any sort of opinion about that,” he said. “I think given where we are at right now, there’s a lot of points out, No 1.

“No 2, you have a bunch of elevated events. Shoot, No 3, if you go back on history, there are names right now that probably on both tours that we’re not even mentioning that could have a chance given what’s in front of us.

“So I haven’t even begun to discuss picks with anybody that I trust in my circle, specifically the vice-captains. I feel like it’s irrelevant to even discuss.”