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Padraig Harrington holds the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy after winning the U.S. Senior Open golf championship. Image Credit: AP

Padraig Harrington of Ireland survived his worst round of the weekend, but steadied himself in the final seven holes Sunday to win the U.S. Senior Open in Bethlehem, Pa. for his first victory on the Champions Tour.

Harrington held a five-shot lead entering the day but stumbled early with four bogeys on his first 11 holes, though he held on with a 72 Sunday for a 10-under-par score of 274 in the four-day event at Saucon Valley Country Club.

Trophy winner

Playing in his first career Senior Open, Harrington became the third consecutive trophy winner to win the event in his debut, joining Jim Furyk last year and Steve Stricker in 2019.

Harrington finished with six pars and a birdie on the par-4 No. 15 hole down the stretch to hold off a strong charge by Stricker, who fired the low round of the day with a scorching 65 to end the tournament in second place at 9 under.

The biggest shot of the tournament may have been Harrington’s 30-foot birdie putt on No. 15 to stay atop the leaderboard.

“It’s tough to lead from the front,” said Harrington, who turned 50 last August. “It’s even tougher when it’s Steve Stricker behind you. He tends to have one on me. I’m happy enough to get it done in the end.” Stricker, the 2019 Senior Open champion and four-time major winner on the Champions Tour, played even-par golf through six holes before reeling off six birdies in his final 12 holes to put the heat on Harrington.

'Played great'

“I had a couple of putts I wish I could have over at 15 and 16 coming in, but I made him (Harrington) sweat it out a little bit towards the end, which was a goal of mine, and he handled it,” Stricker said.

“Hats off to him. He played great. I played with him yesterday. He played great. It was close, but he was the better player this week.”

Far back of Harrington and Stricker was Australian Mark Hensby in third at 4 under after shooting 69 on Sunday. Americans Rob Labritz (74) and Gene Sauers (74) along with Thongchai Jaidee (70) on Thailand finished tied for fourth at 3 under.