Harrington impossible to ignore

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Not long after Tiger Woods announced he was done for the year because of knee surgery, the search began for the player who could dominate golf in his absence, especially the final two majors.
 
Padraig Harrington didnt make too many short lists.
 
Most eyes were on Phil Mickelson, No. 2 in the world with three majors among his 35 victories around the world. Maybe it was time for Ernie Els to emerge anew, especially now that Woods wasnt around to break his heart. Youth focused on Sergio Garcia, a phenomenal talent who had captured the next best thing to a major at The Players Championship.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington is closing in on Phil Mickelson as the No. 2 ranked player in the world. (Getty Images)
Harrington provided the answer not once, but twice.
 
First came his four-shot victory in the British Open, where he shot 32 on the back nine in 35 mph wind at Royal Birkdale. One month later, Harrington awoke from a daze to win the PGA Championship with a 66-66 at Oakland Hills.
 
That gave him three of the last six majors ' only Woods has won that many so quickly in the last 25 years.
 
And instead of asking whether he could fill the void, the question now is whether Harrington can challenge Woods when he returns.
 
Its a good situation that you can ask that question, Harrington said. I have probably been the leading player in Europe for close to six years. It is a big step now to move up and start competing on a different level. Ive got Phil. Ive got Tiger ahead of me. I dont necessarily pay attention to what theyre doing. I pay attention to more what Im doing.
 
That might be one reason why Harrington presents such a threat.
 
He works as hard on his game as anyone, even though Vijay Singh gets the credit as the hardest-working man in golf. Harrington has never been one to be so consumed with results and rankings to abandon the process of getting better. Remember, he went a full year without winning between his consecutive British Open titles.
 
Many periods in my career, Ive had lulls where Ive been in between things and come out stronger, he said after his two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis. Im looking at this period as one of those that I am coming out stronger with experience, and Im putting a lot more things together. Im making things happen on the golf course.
 
Thats what happened Sunday.
 
Harrington was three shots behind Garcia at the turn, having watched the Spaniard make a remarkable par with a long bunker shot on the eighth, and an even better par from across the green on the monstrous par-3 ninth.
 
But thats when the teeth pinched forward, the tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth, signs that he was pouring everything into every shot. He birdied the 10th from 15 feet, hit 5-wood out of the rough and just over the green on the par-5 12th to set up another birdie, then tied Garcia for the lead with a 12-foot birdie on the 13th.
 
Harrington played 27 holes Sunday in the rain-delayed PGA Championship. He one-putted 14 times, and took only 11 putts over his final nine holes. None were as meaningful as the last three, when he saved par with a 12-foot putt on the 16th to tie Garcia again, took the lead with a 10-foot birdie on the 17th as Garcia missed from 4 feet, and got his name on the Wanamaker Trophy with a 15-foot par on No. 18.
 
It was the stuff of major champions. It was the kind of putts Woods routinely makes when he wins majors.
 
Its a long way to catch Tiger at the top, Harrington said. But I know that the only way of focusing on doing that is focusing on me, controlling what I can do. Thats the only thing I can ask of myself.
 
It is impossible to ignore Harrington now.
 
When Europe had gone through eight lean years without a major, it was Harrington who ended the streak with his playoff victory last year at Carnoustie. Not since 1905-06 had a European won the British Open in consecutive years until the Irishman won at Royal Birkdale.
 
Tommy Armour was the last European to win the PGA Championship in 1930 until Harrington won at Oakland Hills.
 
And he even carved out history all to himself Sunday as the first European to win consecutive majors.
 
I obviously hold a lot of European players who I grew up watching in high esteem, Harrington said. To believe that I achieved something they hadnt is very special.
 
More accolades could follow.
 
Even though Woods won four of the six PGA TOUR events he entered and captured a 14th career major at the U.S. Open on one good leg, Harrington presents a strong challenge as PGA TOUR player of the year. No one has ever won two majors in the same season without getting voted the award by the players.
 
He is virtually a lock to win the points-based award from the PGA of America unless Mickelson or Masters champion Trevor Immelman wins every tournament they enter, including the Fall Series.
 
And to think it all began with a loss no one remembers.
 
Harrington had a chance to win his first major in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He played bogey-free for the first 15 holes until making bogey on the final three to shoot 71 and finish two shots behind.
 
I dodged a bullet because there was some more high-profile losers that day, he said, referring to Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie. But I walked away from that tournament knowing I could win a major. And youve got to lose them to know you can win them. Ive got to put myself in the position and learn from it and understand it before I actually go and do it.
 
Thats what Garcia needs to do before he can join the elite. In the meantime, Harrington has rightfully taken his place.
 
There is no denying that.
 
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  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

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    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.