Padraig Harrington finished 27 under to win the 2022 Charles Schwab Cup Championship by a whopping seven strokes.
Ahead of the 2023 rendition of the PGA Tour Champions finale, he noted the layout probably won’t play as it did a year ago
“The course is in fantastic condition,” he said after the pro-am Wednesday. “Certainly seem to have tried to toughen it up a little bit this year. They don’t want to see 27 under par again.”
Halfway through this year, the leaders are on pace to get to 22 under, well shy of what Harrington got to a year ago but nonetheless, low scores were to be had Friday at Phoenix Country Club, where the temperature peaked at 77 under clear, sunny skies.
Harrington had the best round Friday with an 8-under 63, his scorecard featuring eight birdies and no bogeys. He was the first to get to double digits under par, and he’s at 10 under after 36 holes.
The co-leaders are Steven Alker and Marco Dawson, who each shot 64 to get to 11 under. Both golfers birdied Nos. 13, 16 and 18 coming down the stretch. Alker won the 2022 Schwab Cup series title.
“The greens seemed faster today. Ball was flying further for some reason, maybe I was hitting it better, I don’t know,” said Alker. “But it seemed to be going a long way.”
For Dawson, it’s been a while since he contended, he admitted in the media scrum after his round.
Q: When was the last time that you shared the lead, do you remember?
MARCO DAWSON: No, I don’t remember. Maybe at home with my buddies. (Laughs.)
Q: Did you win?
MARCO DAWSON: You know, I think I did.
Tied for third with Harrington is Harrison Frazar, who won the first of the 2023 Schwab Cup Playoff events three weeks ago; Alex Cejka, who posted a scorching back-nine 29. He had six birdies on the second nine, including four straight on Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18; and Thongchai Jaidee, who closed with back-to-back birdies to shoot a 67.
Ernie Els, whose first-round 63 is tied for low round of the week so far, shot a 70 and sits tied for sixth at 9 under along with Richard Green and Stephen Ames.
There are 13 players within four shots of the lead.
The 72-hole, no-cut season-ender concludes Sunday. Steve Stricker, who won the season-long points race before the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs started, will not be there to collect his series trophy. He withdrew late in the day Wednesday after announcing his father was admitted into the hospital.
While the PGA Tour Champions season will come to an end Sunday, Harrington…