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Padraig Harrington holds on to one-shot lead at KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

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Padraig Harrington holds on to one-shot lead at KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

    Written by The Associated Press

    FRISCO, Texas -- Padraig Harrington was in position for the 54-hole scoring record and a comfortable lead at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

    Instead, the 51-year-old Irishman ended up in a tight fight with Steve Stricker in what will be a final-round matchup of opposing Ryder Cup captains from 2021.

    Harrington wobbled for the first time in the tournament over the final three holes Saturday, settling for a second consecutive 4-under 68 and a one-shot lead over Stricker, who matched Harrington's tournament-best 64 from the opening round.

    Stewart Cink aced the 191-yard 13th hole in the first event on the Fields Ranch East course at the new Texas headquarters of the PGA of America, about 35 miles north of Dallas in Frisco.

    He is three shots behind Harrington as the last of only three within six shots of the lead on a par-72 layout set to host the PGA Championship in 2027 and 2034 and possibly a Ryder Cup in the late 2030s.

    Harrington was the only player left in the field without a bogey before a double-bogey at the par-4 16th when he went into a native area to the right of the green and needed two shots to get out.

    What had been a five-shot lead over Stricker was down to one, and gone soon after when Stricker birdied the par-5 18th.

    Padraig Harrington maintains lead at the KitchenAid Senior PGA

    Harrington matched the birdie to retake the lead at 16 under, blasting a long bunker shot inside 10 feet. He is looking to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the event since Rocco Mediate in 2016.

    Harrington had five birdies through 12 holes to get to 17 under, which is Sam Snead's 50-year-old Senior PGA record through 54 holes.

    There was still something to celebrate in his group, with Harrington giving Cink a leaping high-five after his playing partner's ace.

    Cink sank his hole-in-one with a perfect 6-iron that bounced about 20 feet in front of the hole and rolled in at just about the right speed. He kissed his wife and caddie, Lisa, and gave the signed ball to a fan.

    Making his PGA TOUR Champions debut less than a week after turning 50, Cink had to drop out of a native area on the next hole at 14 but salvaged a par. Two birdies and a bogey over the final four holes left him at 67.

    Stricker extended his PGA TOUR Champions-record streak of rounds of par or better to 48 in a row with four birdies on each nine.

    The 56-year-old Stricker, who hasn't finished outside the top eight in his first eight PGA TOUR Champions starts this season, is coming off a victory in the first senior major of the season. It was his second consecutive Regions Tradition victory.

    Harrington, the 2008 PGA Championship winner and a two-time Open Championship winner, was on the verge of a runaway through 50 holes, and even escaped what looked to be the first momentum-turning moment.

    Right on the edge of a native area on the short par-4 15th, Harrington took several swings to see how the tall grass would affect the shot, then finally put the ball inside 15 feet and just missed the birdie putt.

    There was no escaping the trouble at 16.

    Harrington knew immediately his approach shot wasn't good, and took several whacks at the tall grass before attempting the first shot. The ball barely moved, and the second attempt was a high-arching shot that landed about 20 feet from the cup. Harrington missed the bogey putt.

    Robert Karlsson, Darren Clarke and Y.E. Yang were at 9 under, a stroke better than defending Senior PGA champion Steven Alker, who shot 69.

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