Harrington's journey has become much better

Posted: August 09, 2007

TULSA, Okla. - Early in his golfing career, all Padraig Harrington really wanted to be, in his own words, was a journeyman.

Three weeks ago the Dublin native, who will turn 36 on the last day of this month, became the first European in exactly 8 years to win a major. One moment he was looking an awful lot like Jean Van de Velde's stunt double. An hour or so later he was sinking a 3-foot bogey putt to beat Sergio Garcia by one in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie to win the British Open.

And how many blokes who make a double bogey on the last hole of regulation can ever say that?

That day, Harrington said his goal wasn't to win one major. The rest of his quest begins today at Southern Hills Country Club, in the 89th PGA Championship.

"It's taken me a long time to believe that I could [win a major]," he said. "I definitely can become a better player . . . from this moment on.

"The trophy is at home, boxed up away. I had 7 days with it, and definitely needed a break from it. But I'm sure I'll get another run with it when I'm at home. It is nice. I just kept it on the breakfast table, actually. And to come down to breakfast and see it sitting there as you're having your tea and toast is very pleasing."

It probably does complete the room.

His life will never be the same. The victory made him a bunch of cash. Not to mention a hero in a country that hadn't celebrated a major winner in 60 years. Ireland will never forget.

Then again, neither will he.

"Seeing the enjoyment [friends and family] got out of it was really nice," Harrington said. "There's a lot of people that are a part of any player going on to win a tournament like that. They all contributed a little bit to it. That was probably the best [feeling]."

At some point, though, it's back to work.

"Maybe there is a little bit of a letdown after winning the Open," he said. "But at this stage, I've got to believe I have more of a chance [to win because of that]. Golf is a very strange game. There's always a next week in golf. When you win, and if you haven't played well. And we're very fickle . . . The Open Championship, it's a nice memory. But it's on the back burner until this event finishes."

Of course, if Garcia's putt on the 72nd hole curls in instead of out, Paddy's the one getting asked all the brutal questions here.

Very strange, indeed.

"I think the real difficulty would be when I get myself in a similar position again, how would I have felt about it," Harrington said. "I would have found it hard. You don't get that many opportunities to win majors, so you don't want to give one up at all."

Instead, that's someone else's dilemma.

Harrington's best finish in this major was a tie for 17th in 2002 at Hazeltine. When the U.S. Open was held here a year earlier, he tied for 30th. No European-born player has won this thing since 1930.

"If the floodgates open up over the next couple of years, I'll take the credit for it," Harrington joked.

Wasn't that supposed to be someone else's line?

Tap-ins

Paul Azinger, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, named Raymond Floyd, Dave Stockton and Olin Browne to be his assistants. The biennial competition will be held at Valhalla Country Club (Louisville, Ky.) next September. The Americans have lost five of the last six meetings, in case anyone on this side of the Atlantic forgot . . . Jim Furyk said his back, which caused him to withdraw last week, is "in a pretty good state." He said he's not 100 percent, but he feels the course, which favors accuracy over power, suits his game . . . Phil Mickelson, who said his injured wrist is finally getting close to being totally healed, was the third-round leader at the 2001 U.S. Open here, before fading on the final day. He has broken par only once in his last 10 rounds. That was on Thursday at the British Open, when he shot 71. He followed with a 77 and missed the cut. *

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