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Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington looking for three straight at Dick’s

Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington looking for three straight at Dick’s

Threes are potentially wild for the 17th edition of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open when tournament play begins Friday at En-Joie Golf Course.

There is Padraig Harrington, winner of each of the last two PGA Tour Champions events in Endicott. And there is Ernie Els, winner of the most recent two Tour events anywhere.

Those possibilities will assuredly be front and center as anticipation builds through the week of preliminary activity in what will be uncomfortably steamy temperatures throughout Broome County.

One annual highlight of the event will be staged Friday night following opening-round play. That’ll be a concert featuring Luke Bryan, maker of 30 No. 1 hits and five-time entertainer of the year.

“Stunningly spectacular” was applied on this website last year, when Harrington beat up En-Joie’s second nine Sunday — five birdies, one eagle for a 7-under 28 — to complete a round of 9-under 63 and become the event’s first back-to-back champion.

Joe Durant, 18-hole leader by three and Sunday’s pace-setter for much of the back nine, went 64-69-66 as runner-up, a shot better than Els, whose closing bogey left him a 68 and 16-under total.

Padraig Harrington of Ireland holds the trophy after winning the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open at En-Joie Golf Club on June 25, 2023 in Endicott, New York. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Els won the June 7-8-9 American Family Insurance Championship in a playoff with Steve Stricker, a week after topping the field at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines (62-68-65). He is a five-time PGA Tour Champions winner with a stellar record at En-Joie.

“We’ve got an interesting storyline. What’s going to happen: Is Ernie Els going to win three in a row? Or is Padraig going to threepeat?” said tournament director John Karedes.

As for which would be more compelling? “I don’t know. You’ve got Padraig, who’s just an awesome guy, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame (June 10), and you’ve got Ernie who I believe has two (top-threes) here.

“We’ve had guys like Ernie and Miguel and Darren Clarke who’ve come just oh so close. Oh, and let’s not forget about the sixty-some-year-old, Bernhard. When I went on social media and saw he’d gone a six-week period and all he could do was chip and putt, I told my colleagues, ‘You guys watch out. If this guy can only work on his short game for six weeks, you think about what that short game is going to be like when he comes back and he starts…


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