And Harringtons golf was beguiling
Their Open he captured
Their hearts he enraptured
Now theyre spilling their beer on the tiling.
Yes, an Irishman, Padraig Harrington, has finally won the Irish Open after 25 years of national futility. And, yes, he did it at Adare Manor which is in County Limerick.
Which explains the verse above and the poetic license.
You see Harrington wasnt exactly beguiling on the final nine holes Sunday. He three-putted the 11th and mis-clubbed on the 17th. And by the time, he and playing competitor Bradley Dredge got to the 72nd hole, Harringtons three-shot lead over the persistent Welshman had evaporated thanks to Dredge birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17.
A three-shot lead isnt anywhere near enough on a golf course like this, Harrington said. The interesting thing about this particular quote is that Harrington uttered it at the conclusion of play Saturday when he commandeered the 54-hole advantage over Englands Simon Wakefield. By three shots.
Much of Irelands history is defined by an horrific potato famine that ushered in great hardship and greatly influenced the character of the people who live on the Emerald Isle. So it goes without saying that a golf drought is an occurrence that isnt terribly surprising or disconcerting to the locals.
Nonetheless the Irish are a proud people and Harrington is their golf hero. Darren Clarke is popular, too. But he is an Ulsterman from Northern Ireland. The heart of the Republic of Ireland is still Dublin. And Harrington is a native Dubliner.
In 1997 when Harrington and Paul McGinley walked off with the World Cup at Kiawah it was the first Irish victory in that event since Harry Bradshaw and Christy OConnor Sr. had carried the day way back in 1957.
OConnor was a character who liked to hit driver off the deck and knew a thing or two about spending a night on the tiles as they say in the pubs. Bradshaw would later become known simply as The Brad. And although the Catholic Church doesnt recognize his sainthood, he was long ago canonized at Portmarnock.
Portmarnock, by the way, is the golf course where John OLeary became the last Irishman to win the Irish Open. Until the 35-year-old Harrington beat Dredge on Sundays first hole of a sudden death playoff.
When the Irish crowd greeted Harrington as he approached the 18th green at the end of his Saturday round, it was as if they had crowned him champion already.
The strange thing is were going to have to go out and do this again tomorrow, Harrington told his caddie while politely acknowledging the spectators.
Little did he know he would have to do so twice. The Irish enthusiasm turned to a murmur on the 71st hole when Dredge stiffed his approach into the par-4 and Harrington played aggressively long and left with his second. The resultant two-shot swing left the players in a flat-footed tie going to 18.
Both made par and both returned to the daunting par-5 18th for the playoff. Dredge made a mess of the hole. Harrington carded a conservative par. And the celebration began in earnest.
Just as Byron Nelsons tournament is Scott Verplanks fifth major and Milwaukee is the same to Jerry Kelly, the Irish Open is the tournament Harrington coveted the most next to the four real majors. And the frustration had been building after two seconds in this tournament in the last six years.
It has been said the Irish dont do anything easily. I felt the pressure, Harrington admitted afterward. It was probably the most nervous Ive been for many a tournament.
It has also been said'God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world. The quote, if you Google it, is most widely attributed to Ed McMahon, Johnny Carsons former sidekick.
At some point these stereotypes go from amusing to tiresome. Harrington is one of the three or four hardest working golfers in the world. His work ethic is right up there with the regimens of Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods.
So lets give credit where credit is due to a hard won victory by one of golfs best grinders. But lets not think celebrating with a pint of Guinness is such a bad idea either.
Its a great day for the Irish.
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