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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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."