TULSA, Oklahoma – It wasn’t the start he wanted Sunday, but it might have been the finish Séamus Power needed in his first reasonable crack at major championship contention.
An early double bogey on the second and a missed 3-footer on the 10th largely spoiled Power’s chances to win the PGA Championship, but a final-round 72 was good enough for his first career top-10 finish in his second major start, as he tied for ninth with Abraham Ancer, Tom Hoge and Brendan Steele at 1-under-par 279 at Southern Hills. Rory McIlroy finished one shot ahead in eighth.
“Overall that’s a good week,” Power said. “This is only my second major. But to be in position at the start of the day you have higher hopes. I didn’t play my best today, but everything on top of that to get a top 10, all said and done I can’t complain too much.”
Power started Sunday tied fifth at Southern Hills, his 3-under starting mark six shots behind 54-hole leader Mito Pereira of Chile and just three shots out of second place. A fast start like the one McIlroy got off to earlier would have put the Waterford man firmly into the mix.
Unfortunately, Power’s drive on the treacherous second hole tumbled left into the creek that meanders the length of the par-4 hole. His recovery approach from 214 yards found the greenside bunker and he suffered a double bogey.
“Obviously that’s not the start you’re looking for,” Power said. “I just kind of toed it into the wind and it went a little lower. I should have had that covered but it went too low and kicked back in. That was a rough way to start. I had some chances after that … but I missed a short one on 10. Those two mistakes really cost me. Besides that, it was a lot of good stuff.”
He got one back with a birdie on No. 4, but he couldn’t convert short chances at 5 – after hitting his tee shot into a spectator’s hoodie – and 9 before making a three-putt bogey on 10. A couple good chances slipped away on 13 and 14, but he made two 7-footers on 17 and 18 to stay in the red.
“You’re always disappointed coming off the course immediately, but overall I think I’ll look back and be very satisfied,” he said. “Getting a top 10 is good anytime, when you play in a major it’s a little bit better.
“Initially you’re always looking at the what-ifs, but I did a lot of good things. I’m definitely going to look back on it in a very positive way. I’ve got a lot of things to build on and clean up a couple of things I’ll be good to go.”
His T9 was certainly a building-block performance for a 35-year-old making his second cut in his second career major start. Fellow Irishman Shane Lowry lauded his effort.
“He comes here in his second major he’s ever played in and going out there and playing a twosome on Sunday,” Lowry said. “No matter what happens today, he’ll learn from today whether he wins, loses or draws. It’s all a learning curve for him. He just needs to be patient even though he’s 35. He just needs to be patient because he’s got a long room of 10 years hopefully ahead of him out here. When you’re doing that on this course in this field and in the last few groups you learn from that.”
Power said he’s learned a lot in making the cut at both the Masters and PGA. Those results have built on his past year of success on the PGA Tour that included his first tour victory and moving into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings – standing that qualifies him for next month’s U.S. Open at Brookline and the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.
“Last year I’ve been in some sort of contention regularly enough, that definitely helped in this situation and something to lean on,” he said. “I know they haven’t been majors but you still learn some things that’ll make you confident the next time.
“Obviously two solid starts (in majors) and hopefully this should get me in the next two majors, so something to look forward to as well.”
Power played in the hard half of the weather draw in Oklahoma and still finished ninth. Considering he didn’t get many breaks and didn’t feel like he played his best golf, the experience makes him believe he has what it takes to win a major before his career is done. He only finished four shots out of the eventual playoff.
“I can find those shots quickly enough,” Power said. “Even today, I left three out there without even doing much. And I had chances on 13 and 14. It doesn’t take much for me to be 4- or 5-under on the 17th tee and having a really good chance of winning. That’s really very encouraging on a tough course where I really didn’t quite have my best game but played well enough to hang in there.
“I think when my game is on in a week, I think I’m good enough to win. If someone like Rory goes out and plays his best golf for four days, you’re not going to win. He’s going to win the tournament. But I feel like if I was playing my best golf for four days, there’s very few guys that will be able to top me. That’s going to be my thought process going forward.”