Harrington is the hardest worker in golf

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. ' Perhaps it is only fitting that Padraig Harrington first gained notoriety in the United States when he walked more than 150 yards to the 17th green at The Country Club to check the hole location at the Ryder Cup.
 
Few players pay such attention to detail.
 
He is missing this week from the Chevron World Challenge for the first time in seven years, but he was easy to find all those years he showed up at Sherwood for what most everyone else treated as a prestigious money grab. Even in the silly season, Harrington would be on the practice range until it was too dark and too cold to continue.
 
That he was voted PGA Tour player of the year Tuesday was no accident.
 
Vijay Singh for years was credited as the hardest-working man in golf because he spends so many hours on the practice range. Others would argue that Tiger Woods works the hardest because he is the most efficient with his time. Harrington is a little of both.
And to what does he attribute such a work ethic?
 
Im an optimist, he said. Every day I get out there, I think Im getting better.
 
In some respects, he was at his best this year. The Irishman won only two tournaments this year, but they put him in the record books. He became the first European in more than a century to win back-to-back at the British Open. A month later, he became the first European ever to win successive majors in the same season by capturing the PGA Championship.
 
Who would have imagined that?
 
As everyone waited to see if Colin Montgomerie would win a major to validate his eight Order of Merits, or if Sergio Garcia would live up to his supreme skills by winning a major, Harrington won three of the last six majors to become the face of European golf.
 
I probably never was necessarily destined as the one to be picked out to go on to such great heights, Harrington said. At all stages, Im somebody who has worked hard. And probably my greatest trait is my ability to learn, apply myself to tasks, find out what needs to be done and to move on.
 
Harrington won 11 times on the European Tour and twice on the PGA Tour before he won his first major. He was known almost as much for the all those runner-up finishes he had'14 in a four-year span at the turn of the decade.
 
He figures he could have won more, but at what cost?
 
Im quite a risk-taker when it comes to changing things, Harrington said. I worry sometimes that, certainly in my initial years on the tour, I sacrificed short-term performances. I might have won more events but for the fact that I was always changing things.
 
He can recall more than one occasion when he was leading or in contention going into the final round, and he spent his time on the practice range that morning changing his swing to get ready for a bigger tournament down the road.
 
Nowadays, it would be madness to do something like that, he said.
 
His great season was topped off by a week that made all the work'and all the changes'worthwhile.
 
In a span of eight days, Harrington was voted player of the year by the European tour; by the British-based Association of Golf Writers; by the Golf Writers Association of America (with 75 percent of the vote); and by his colleagues on the PGA Tour.
 
The most recent was the most meaningful because it was strictly a vote of the players.
 
It is an individual game when were out there competing, but you do want and crave the respect of your fellow pros, he said. And the fact that they have picked me as their player of the year, I find it hard to describe. Ive probably never received as high an accolade in my life. It compares equally to winning a major championship.
 
The PGA Tour does not release voting totals, and all Harrington revealed was that he abstained.
 
I wouldnt believe in voting for myself, he said. But I did dearly want to win it, so I wasnt going to vote for somebody else.
 
With one major in the bag, Harrington found himself trying to live up to his status the first part of 2008 and getting in his way. Only after a wrist injury in the days leading up to the British Open did he take pressure off himself and let the golf come naturally.
 
Two majors put him in a special class, but he kept pushing, searching for a new level to reach. He found it a month later at Oakland Hills with a putting performance over the final three holes that ranks among the best.
 
Now comes the most scrutiny he has ever faced.
 
If he were to win at Augusta National in April, Harrington would join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three consecutive majors since the Masters began in 1934. Additional pressure comes from having to beat a major field that includes Woods, who was on the couch when Harrington won the last two majors.
 
Whatever happens, it will not be from a lack of effort
 

Related Links:
  • Padraig Harrington voted PGA Tour Player of the Year
  • ON THE TEE: Did Harrington deserve PGA Tour Player of the Year?
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.