Having secured his European Tour card at the first attempt, Padraig made a great start to his professional career with a run of top-10 finishes and that all important maiden tour victory at the 1996 Spanish Open, only his 10th event as a professional. Further top-10s saw him finish 11th in the European Tour Order of Merit for the year and secured him places in the Irish Dunhill Cup and World Cup teams. Such achievements were incredible in his first year as a professional.
A 5th place finish at the Open Championship in 1997 and 6 top-10 finishes, including second place at the Volvo Masters, saw Padraig climb to 8th position in the 1997 Order of Merit. He was once again selected for the Irish World Cup and Dunhill Cup teams and partnered Paul McGinley to victory in the World Cup at Kiawah Island, the nation’s first for 39 years.
1999 saw Padraig fulfil one of his career ambitions – representing Europe in the Ryder Cup. He showed enormous resolve to finish in second position in each of the last two qualifying tournaments to secure a spot in the team. He then began 2000 by ending his run of nine runner-up spots since his first European Tour win, to claim his second title at the Brazil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open. He finished the season by capturing the BBVA Turespana Masters de Madrid for his second victory of the year.
The 2001 season was definitely one of Padraig’s best, which included finishing runner up on seven occasions and a dramatic win at the season ending Volvo Masters in Jerez. In 2002, Padraig finished 5th at both the Masters and The Open Championship, as well as 8th at the US Open. Following on from a highly successful Ryder Cup, he proceeded to win the prestigious Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews and ultimately finish second on the European Volvo Order of Merit. He then topped off a superb year by beating Tiger Woods in his own event, the Target World Challenge.
Padraig won twice more on the European Tour in 2003, at the BMW Asian Open and the prestigious Deutsche Bank SAP Open, and then won again in Asia at the Omega Hong Kong Open in the early part of the 2004 season. A run of impressive performances in the United States was backed up on his return to Europe by victory at the 2004 German Masters and he was also an inspirational member of the record breaking European team at the Ryder Cup that September. In 2005 Padraig moved up another level in the world game with two victories on the PGA Tour winning at the Honda Classic in Florida and then claiming the Barclays Classic in New York.
Padraig’s 2006 season really got going when he strongly contended at the US Open at Winged Foot before finishing 5th and followed that with a second place finish the following week at the Booz-Allen Classic. Further second place finishes at the French Open and BMW International events secured Padraig’s fourth Ryder Cup appearance at The K Club. An impressive win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship set up the European Tour Order of Merit title, which was clinched in great style with a second place at the season ending Volvo Masters. He then beat Tiger Woods in a play-off for the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan and established himself as one of the world’s top players.
Despite having gained the European number one spot, there was plenty more to come from this popular Irishman at the beginning of 2007. He had a top-10 finish at the Masters and then became the first Irishman to win his national title for 25 years, before then becoming the first European to win a Major since 1999, when he won the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie after a dramatic last day. Despite visiting the water twice on the 72nd hole, Padraig shot a round of 67 to earn a place in the play-off with Sergio Garcia. Four holes later he deservedly became Champion Golfer of the Year.
2008 was another unbelievable year for Padraig with some excellent performances on the European and PGA Tour. However, with a focus on the Major Championships and a credible fifth place finish at the Masters, he then made a remarkable defence of his Open Championship title at Royal Birkdale, becoming the first European to successfully defend the title since James Braid in 1906. Three weeks later, Padraig went over to the US and won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, Michigan, in dramatic style, making him the first Irishman to win the event, the first European since 1930 and the first European to win back-to-back Major titles. The three major wins in the space of 13 months helped him to reach a career high of 3rd in the World Rankings and earned him the European Tour, PGA Tour and PGA of America Player of the Year awards.
Padraig started his 2009 season with a tie for 5th at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and also finished with six straight top-10 finishes in the US before his 3rd place finish at the Portuguese Masters and 4th place in the Dubai World Championship. He finished his PGA Tour season in 7th place in the FedEx Cup standings and 15th in the Race to Dubai.
2010 was successful on both the European and PGA Tours with a total of eight top-10 finishes. In addition Padraig won 2 out of 4 points in Europe’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and snapped a two-year winless streak when he took a five-stroke lead into the final round of the Asian Tour’s Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia and rolled to victory. It was his third Asian Tour win, to go with previous titles in Hong Kong and Taiwan. By his high standards, 2011 was not as prolific for Padraig, although he continued to play on both the PGA and European Tours and his season included five top-10’s with a good showing at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
In 2012, Padraig finished tied 8th at the Masters and tied 4th at the US Open, and then later in the year he went on to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda.
Padraig endured difficult 2013 and 2014 seasons finishing outside of the top-60 on the European Tour Race to Dubai and the top-125 on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup in both years. However, he bounced back in December 2014 when he won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour by 2 shots.
In March 2015, Padraig won his first event on the European or PGA Tours for seven years (since winning the 2008 PGA Championship) by claiming the 2015 Honda Classic, defeating rookie Daniel Berger on the second extra hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Both wins showed a great return to form and Padraig followed this up in 2016 with a win at the Portugal Masters on the European Tour, shooting 65 in the last round to defeat Andy Sullivan by one shot.
A couple of 4th place finishes at the Scottish Open and Turkish Airlines Open were the highlights of the 2017 season, whilst 2018 includes three top-10 finishes, including a 2nd place finish at the Czech Masters.