Notes Harrington Still a Work in Progress


To say that Padraig Harrington's victory in the British Open was a work in progress might be an understatement.
Vijay Singh has long held the reputation as the hardest working man in golf, but Harrington could match him bucket for bucket, hour for hour. The difference was that Singh was refining, while Harrington seemed to be constantly rebuilding.
The turning point came 18 months ago.
'I started to believe more and more in myself,' Harrington said last week in Bermuda, where he stayed on a chipping green for an hour after his six-hour pro-am round. 'This season and last season, I was more comfortable. I would say in the last 18 months, for the first time, I turned up for a tournament and played those tournaments as if there were no tournaments the following week.'
He said that was true even at majors, which seems odd for someone to be thinking about anything but the next shot.
But he pointed to two majors that showed the difference in his game.
One was the U.S. Open in 1998 at The Olympic Club, where he tied for 32nd. The other was the 2006 Masters, where he tied for 27th.
'At Olympic Club, I walked away from that thinking I've got to change,' Harrington said. 'I did everything I could. I got up-and-down, holed every putt. I felt I could do no better. I felt totally inadequate.'
He was never in contention and broke par only one round at Augusta National in 2006, but he knew he was on the right track.
'There wasn't a shot that was presented where I thought somebody else had a big advantage,' he said. 'I said to Bob Rotella afterward, 'I'm good enough to win one of these.' And since then, I've been a lot more comfortable with my game. I feel like I can hit the shot. I'm not saying I could do it at will, but I could do it.'
And he did.
Jim Furyk doesn't know if the PGA TOUR will move the TOUR Championship after the Ryder Cup next year, but he's certain of one thing: Leaving everything alone would ensure players skipping at least one playoff event.
'You would see a majority take at least one week off,' Furyk said. 'I guarantee it.'
The tour is looking at several scenarios for 2008, the only year in the TV contract in which the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup falls immediately after the FedExCup. A decision is expected at the policy board meeting Nov. 12.
But it could be a test to see whether the tour caters to a bigger event (Ryder Cup) or to more players. Ten of the 12 players on the U.S. team at the Presidents Cup, for example, were at the TOUR Championship, and seven of them played all four weeks.
'I guess the question is do you set your schedule around 12 individuals?' Furyk asked rhetorically.
What would be the downside of moving the TOUR Championship after the Ryder Cup? Furyk wondered if the TOUR Championship would feel like a letdown for Ryder Cup players.
'And it would hurt the party Sunday night for the winning team,' he said.
Mike Weir said his victory in the Fry's Electronics Open was a long time coming because it had been more than 3 1/2 years since his last PGA TOUR victories.
But he certainly wasn't the only player who ended a long drought this year.
With two tournaments left in the season, already eight players went more than three years between victories. The longest wait goes to Paul Goydos, who won at the Sony Open to end a 256-tournament drought that stretched nearly 11 years.
Steve Stricker went 6 1/2 years and 146 starts before he won The Barclays, followed by Scott Verplank, who went 5 1/2 years and 139 tournaments until he won the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Two other players went more than 100 tournaments between trophy presentations -- Charles Howell III (127) and Steve Flesch (101).
So it wasn't that bad for Weir. He only went 86 starts between victories. Rounding out the list are Woody Austin and Jonathan Byrd, who both went 81 starts without winning.
All it takes is one good week for a player to secure his PGA TOUR card next year, and Jesper Parnevik is one of several examples. He was No. 139 on the money list when the Fall Series began, but a playoff loss at the Valero Texas Open has helped move him to No. 88, and now he's trying to go higher to get into the invitationals.
Parnevik had been thinking about using a one-time exemption for top 50 on the career money list.
'But it's a pride thing,' he said. 'I've been playing now for 21 years and never lost my card, so it's something you want to do even though I had a little parachute thing to fall back on.'
British Open champion Padraig Harrington has a book coming out during the holidays that details his best 18 shots over four days at Carnoustie.
He wouldn't divulge the order, but one shot might have been a clear No. 1 if he had made the putt.
'The 4-iron I hit on the third playoff hole to 5 feet,' Harrington said.
The Irishman already was two shots ahead of Sergio Garcia, and he missed the 5-foot birdie at No. 17 to carry the drama to the final hole, where a bogey gave him a one-shot victory and the claret jug.
Why won't such a pure shot be at the top of his list?
'The fact I didn't hole the putt,' he said. 'And the fact I was two ahead. It was inconsequential. If I was level, hit that shot and holed the putt, it would go down as the best shot I ever hit in my life.'
As it is, he'll gladly settle for the claret jug.
Mike Weir became the sixth player to join the $20 million club on the PGA TOUR this year. The others are Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Verplank, Fred Funk, Stuart Appleby and Stewart Cink. ... After serving as his assistant captain to Gary Player the last three Presidents Cup, former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch has joined his company. Baker-Finch will be an ambassador for Black Knight International, focusing on business ventures. ... The American Junior Golf Association selected Peter Uihlein and Vicky Hurst as its players of the year on Tuesday. ... The 125th spot on the PGA TOUR money list has increased by $169,217 through five events of the Fall Series.
Justin Rose is third on the European Tour Order of Merit despite playing 11 tournaments, with only five of those events in Europe.
'I was 30 under par for the last two weeks and didn't win. I guess I better play better.' -- Mark O'Meara.
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