Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
ISLETA PUEBLO – Through six holes in Tuesday’s final round of the Sun Country PGA Professional Championship, Brad Lardon saw his three-stroke lead through 36 holes 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 predicament did not produce motivation for Lardon, who said he has had a strong passion to win this tournament since seven years ago when he turned 50.
Lardon, the director of golf at the Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, instead wanted to make history.
He shot bogey-free after No. 4 and putted in six birdies 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 the two pro titles in the same year in Sun Country history.
“It feels awesome,” said Lardon, who finished at 9-under 207 (69-70-68). “It’s always been a goal. I wished that some day I could’ve done it and to actually accomplish it, it’s been a long road back. I had a couple of surgeries, but to be able to pull it together and play well in both events, I’m ecstatic.”
The top three at the 54-hole tourney at Isleta advance to the 2023 PGA Professional Championship, April 30-May 3 at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana golf clubs. First, the Senior PGA Professional Championship is also on the Santa Ana Pueblo Oct. 13-16.
Garret Howell, a pro at Las Campanas, finished second at 3-under 213. Miertschin, head pro at El Paso’s Lone Star Golf Club, beat Harvey, the head pro at Ladera Golf Course. in a two-hole playoff after they had tied in regulation at 215.
Harvey’s par putt from within five feet on No. 18 lipped out. His bogey set up the playoff.
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, and 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, competed in lacrosse instead at Division II Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Afterward, he entered the golf management program at New Mexico State University. Twice he completed internships at Las Campanas and then went back again to work there.
This is his first year as a PGA professional.
“It’s really cool that we get to represent our club,” Howell said. “Brad really encourages us to get out and play and work on our game. I think that’s a testament to his leadership.”
Lardon has also provided inspiration. About a year and half ago, he had rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder that put him out for a year.
“This year I’ve been able to play relatively pain free,” he said. “No issues at all this week. It was a long road back.”
The PGA Professional Championship in April features a 312-player field, drawn from across the nation. The low 20 scorers earn a berth in the 2023 PGA Championship, the major that will be contested just weeks later on the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.