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Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
ISLETA PUEBLO — Through six holes in the final round of the Sun Country PGA Professional Championship on Tuesday, Brad Lardon saw his three-shot 36-hole lead disintegrate at Isleta Eagle Golf Course.
Devin Miertschin and Bill Harvey caught Lardon at 6 under, while seven other players were well within striking distance. This difficult situation did not motivate Lardon, who said he had a strong passion to win this tournament for seven years, when he was 50 years old.
Lardon, the director of golf at Club de Las Campanas in Santa Fe, wanted to make history instead.
He shot bogey-free after No. 4 and birdied six to win the title by six strokes. Lardon won the Sun Country Senior PGA Championship last month at Twin Warriors Golf Club. He is the first player to win both professional titles in the same year in Sun Country history.
“It’s awesome,” said Lardon, who finished at 9-under 207 (69-70-68). “That was always a goal. I would have liked to be able to do it one day and to accomplish it, the way back was long. I had a few surgeries, but I’m delighted to be able to pull myself together and play well in both events.
The top three finishers from the 54-hole tournament in Isleta will qualify for the 2023 PGA Professional Championship, April 30-May 3, at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs. First, the PGA Senior Professional Championship also takes place October 13-16 at the Santa Ana Pueblo.
Garret Howell, a Las Campanas pro, was second at 3-under 213. Miertschin, head pro at Lone Star Golf Club in El Paso, beat Harvey, head pro at Ladera Golf Course. in a two-hole playoff after tying in regulation at 215.
Harvey’s par putt within five feet on the No. 18 fumbled. His bogey set up the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Howell sat in the clubhouse and smiled as he watched his boss, Lardon, pose with a replica check for $3,150 and a glass trophy, then answer questions from the media.
Lardon said he was as happy for Howell as he was for himself.
Howell, who did not play college golf, instead competed in lacrosse at Division II Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he entered the golf management program at New Mexico State University. Twice he completed internships in Las Campanas and then returned to work there.
This is his first year as a PGA Professional.
“It’s really cool that we can represent our club,” said Howell. “Brad really encourages us to get out and play and work on our game. I think that’s a testament to his leadership.
Lardon also provided inspiration. About a year and a half ago, he underwent rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder which left him immobilized for a year.
“This year I was able to play relatively pain free,” he said. “No problems this week. It’s been a long road back.”
The PGA Professional Championship in April includes a field of 312 players, drawn from across the country. The top 20 scorers earn a spot in the 2023 PGA Championship, the major to be played a few weeks later on the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.