From Brian Keogh in Detroit
Nick Faldo backed Padraig Harrington for future major glory as the Dubliner battled tooth and claw for US PGA glory at Oakland Hills.
As Harrington fought fatigue to catch early leaders Ben Curtis and Sergio Garcia in a fascinating final round, six-time Major winner Faldo had no doubt that the Irish star will go on to win even more Grand Slam titles.
Harrington complained on Friday that he was running on empty in Detroit after the massive effort of winning at Royal Birkdale.
But with the Ryder Cup coming up next month, Faldo knows that Harrington is now a big-time player who can perform at the highest level on demand.
Faldo said: “The way he performed at Birkdale, especially the back nine, was very impressive.He can win more majors now. It is a pretty obvious statement after he is Open champion twice.
“You question that even yourself - you don't want to be a one-hit wonder. But being a multiple-Major winner is a different mindset.”
After a disappointing second 74, Harrington stormed from 26th to fourth thanks a sensational third round 66 and headed into the final round just three shots behind American pace-setter Ben Curtis on one over.
He got right in the thick of the action in the final round when he two putted from 75 feet for birdie at the second as second placed JB Holmes opened with a triple bogey seven to slip back.
Curtis birdied the first to lead by a shot on three under from Garcia, who opened with a birdie and then eagled the second from just four feet.
Despite a bogey at the fifth, Harrington birdied the sixth to remain just three shots Carnoustie rival Garcia and Curtis with 12 holes to play.
And he was looking for the kind of back nine that saw him storm back into contention following Saturday's storm delays.
The Dubliner was one of 48 players who had to return to the course at 7.15 am yesterday to complete their third rounds.
And he showed no ill effects from his 4.30 am wake up call when he resumed on the 10th and stormed home in 32.
After coming up short with his approaches to the 10th, 11th and 12th, the double Open champion found his range in spectacular style with the putter, ramming home the first of four birdies on the trot when he hit a five-iron to 10 feet at the 13th.
A 25 footer dropped at the monster, 501-yard 14th and a 20 footer at the tough 15th before he rifled an eight-iron to six feet at the 16th and calmly rolled in the putt to get to five under for the day.
A birdie at the long par-three 17th and a par at the last would have given Harrington a new course record 64.
But his 10 footer for birdie at the 17th burned the edge and stayed out before then leaked a 217-yard four iron into a bunker at the 18th and failed to save par from 10 feet.
Forced to settle for a 66, Harrington was playing down his chances of winning a second major title in the space of three weeks.
He said: “I wouldn’t believe I am dependable, I don’t know what will come out of the bag but hopefully it is more of this morning.”
Faldo reckoned that Harrington had the mental strength to tough it out.
He said: You forget about being on empty - Monday is the day to feel exhausted. You know you can give 100 per cent today.”
Graeme McDowell finished his delayed third round bogey-par for a 68 to share 13th place on four over.
But he bogeyed the first, fifth and eighth to fall back to seven over an 10 shots off the pace.