Fortune Shines on Harrington

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Padraig Harrington has two British Open titles, and it all started with a miss.
But it wasnt his.
The morning after he defended his title at Royal Birkdale, the Irishman already was looking ahead. He now is in the same company as Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Dave Stockton and others who have won the same major twice. Next on his list is winning a third major, perhaps one in America.
But imagine where he would be if Sergio Garcia had made that 10-foot par putt last year at the British Open.
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington kisses the claret jug for a second time. (Getty Images)
What everyone remembers from Carnoustie is Harrington draped in an Irish flag and carrying his son Patrick, who wanted to fill the silver claret jug with ladybirds. Forgotten after his playoff victory was a collapse that would have ranked with anything Norman ever did and, by Harringtons admission, might have ruined his career.
Harrington had a one-shot lead on the 18th when he hit his tee shot into Barry Burn. Then he chunked a 5-iron for his third shot that tumbled into the burn again. His greatest shot was a 5-foot putt for double bogey.
All that spared him a crushing defeat was Garcia, whose par putt to win the British Open looked good until the final inch.
If Sergio parred the last and I did lose, I think I would have struggled to come back out and be a competitive golfer, Harrington said that day. To take a 6 down the last, it would have hit me very hard. I think I would have struggled in the future.
Harrington had an old friend at his side -- the claret jug -- when he was reminded Monday of his good fortunes.
It brought back memories not only of Carnoustie, but even the final round at Royal Birkdale. Harrington twice was on the verge of bogey until a beautiful pitch from 30 yards to within inches on the first hole, and a 15-foot putt to save par on the third.
Every shot he made, Norman missed.
Im realistic enough to believe that the twin impostors of success and failure are always a hairs breath away, Harrington said Monday. The difference of that putt (by Garcia) going in and not going in -- and the consequences of that -- are amazing, and no more so than in that one second.
He recognized that if Norman had saved par from a pot bunker on the opening hole and Harrington couldnt get up-and-down from short the green, the Shark would have had a three-shot lead and loads of momentum.
No one will ever know.
But in Sergios case, Harrington continued, we do have an answer. If his putt did drop, he would have won the Open. But the fact is it didnt drop, and I ultimately won the Open.
Perhaps it was only fitting that Harrington played the final round with Norman, who at 53 gave himself yet another chance to win a major and set himself up for more failure.
Of the majors Norman squandered, the most memorable were his 4-iron over the 18th green at the 1986 Masters for a bogey that paved the way for Jack Nicklaus to win a sixth green jacket; his 78 in the final round of the PGA Championship that same year at Inverness, where Bob Tway holed a bunker shot for birdie on the final hole; and the 1996 Masters, when he led by six and lost by five.
How might it have been different for Norman?
One of the most underrated players of his generation was Scott Hoch. How might his career have changed had he made that 30-inch par putt to beat Nick Faldo in a playoff at the 1989 Masters?
What about Doug Sanders blowing a 3-foot putt to win at St. Andrews in 1970?
Colin Montgomerie, the best player alive without a major, could have picked one up at Congressional in 1997 at the U.S. Open if not for freezing over that 5-foot par putt on the 17th hole. One can only imagine how that might have helped him at Winged Foot two years ago when he chunked a 7-iron from the 18th fairway.
You have to look at it like this, Harrington said. Its about averages. You get yourself in position enough times, it will fall on the right side of you some of the times, and the wrong side some of the times. The key is to get into position. Ive played great in tournaments and through no fault of my own finished second. And Ive seen where I messed up and finished second.
If you keep getting in position, one day youll hole a 10-footer to get into the playoff, and the next day you wont. You cant control all the breaks.
Harrington got a big break last year at Carnoustie. Even he said a loss might caused irreparable harm.
Garcia, meanwhile, was the betting favorite at Royal Birkdale this year. He was seven shots behind going into the final round, shot 44 on the back nine and was never a serious factor.
He began the week with a lively press conference, which included one question about Carnoustie. As good as Garcia struck that putt, how much different would his life have been over the past 12 months if that fraction of an inch had gone in his favor?
I dont know, Garcia said. I will never know.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Open Championship
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.