Paddy Shark and Birkdale


The Comebacker this week is predictably about Greg Norman and Padraig Harrington, the ultimate protagonists at the Open champion.
What wasnt predictable, before the event began, was that Norman would be in the mix.
Without further ado:
Steven writes: Harrington played like Tiger in a major on Sunday and he was two shots back. He played steadily without taking any unnecessary risks or making too many costly mistakes. As other frontrunners fell back he took the lead with determination and confidence. ... Like Tiger Woods, Harrington has become a great golf tactician and a relentless grinder. He has a good plan before every round and executes it well. He knew how to win under pressure. Last year he could have excused himself like Garcia, who blamed the golf gods for bad bounces, after hitting two balls into water at the 72nd hole and walked away happy with a second finisher's money. Players like Norman, Garcia and Mickelson need to learn from Harrington or else they will keep letting those major wins get away.
The Comebacker
We can all learn from Padraig Harrington. His golf IQ is extremely high.


Matt writes: Greg Norman is a great golfer and an even better person. I remember back in the 1980's when he had a young handicapped boy with him for all 18 holes one day during the Hilton Head tournament. He made the boy feel special and really made his day. I know that Greg had some bad luck at majors and probably could have won more majors. In the end, he will be remembered as a class individual who helped a lot of people along the way and always showed sportsmanship even though luck was not always on his side. He was always exciting to watch and played all out to win, not to come in second.
The Comebacker
Plus, hes married to Chrissie Evert.


Doug writes: Brother Hewitt, I love your stuff and your no nonsense approach but I think you may be fooling yourself about the Open with no Tiger. I was at a volunteer meeting for the Wyndham Championship on Sunday afternoon so I think that it qualifies as a large group of people (at least 700 people in khaki shorts and golf shirts) who are fairly interested in golf. There was NO buzz about the Open. Most people did not even realize when it ended. There were no more than a couple people reading their Blackberries. I did not see anyone with radios on and even in the pro shop where there was a TV tuned to the Open, nobody was watching.
The Comebacker
Then they missed a terrific championship.


Steve writes: I get so tired of hearing some folks saying that this year's Open win by Harrington should be annotated with an asterisk. I guess if that's true, last year's win should be accompanied by an exclamation point since Tiger was in the field. Nothing against Tiger - we just need to let Paddy have his due respect and enjoy his win.
The Comebacker
Most people cant even pronounce the word asterisk let alone spell it. Which, it seems to me, disqualifies them from deciding when it can be applied.


Peter writes: I was amazed by Padraig Harrington's decision to go for the green with that 5-wood on No. 17. I was expecting him to lay up and come in with a wedge on the third shot, because there wasn't any particular need for heroics, given that he had a 2-shot lead. In any case, that great eagle really made a statement. Padraig claimed the tournament with that shot-- he didn't choose to play defensively, and I would think that winning in that fashion is lot more satisfying. I was really impressed with Harrington as a person after watching the GOLF CHANNEL show where he played a links course with Stephanie Sparks. He talked a lot about the nature of links golf-- he seems to understand the metaphysics of that style of play, and the results speak for themselves.
The Comebacker
And hes not a bad dancer, is he?


Wayne writes: Please stop defending Michelle Wie for violating a rule and being disqualified. If any other player, on any tour, is in violation of a rule of golf, he would receive a too bad, the rules are in effect and followed by the players. That's what makes this such a great game. Because this spoiled teen was disqualified, someone should have made sure this didn't occur. Give it up. Quite a few of the rules are ridiculous, but follow them, or change them.
The Comebacker
So tell me, Wayne, just what do you think of Wie playing on the PGA TOUR next week?


Joel writes: Did anyone else notice that Tom Watson is a great golf announcer? I sure wish he would do it more often.
The Comebacker
I don't think, Norman, criticized much of Sunday by Watson for using his driver almost exclusively off the tee on the par 4s and 5s, thinks Watson is such a great golf announcer.


Elizabeth writes: So you think the game of golf did quite nicely at Birkdale without the worlds No. 1 player? Okay, but what adjectives would we be using about Sunday's play if it had been Greg Norman and Tiger Woods in that final pairing regardless of the outcome? If quite nice is good enough, then maybe you have already forgotten the quite magnificent run the game of golf had at the last major. I admit I was a bit intrigued by the play of both Greg Norman and David Duval. But TV ratings and attendance figures don't lie--golf isn't just fine without Tiger. It is just okay. And I guess we are all spoiled, but I want more than just okay.
The Comebacker
For now, Elizabeth, you want what you cant have.


Joel writes: 1. Michelle Wie should have learned her lesson from before and stay OFF the men's tour. She tortured herself with a DQ, now to finish dead last in a PGA event? Is she a sadist?...2. With respect to my first point, your statement on Sunday about the 'statue of limitations' for some of the violations is spot on.3. The asterisk for this year's Open Championship is for the fact that they played in 40 to 50 mph winds, not that Tiger was not there. As much as I like Tiger, I don't believe he would have been a factor.4. Phil is NOT No. 2 in the world by any stretch of the imagination. He is a chocking chump.
The Comebacker
No. 5: Padraig Harrington will be the favorite next month at Oakland Hills at the PGA Championship. He was 4-1 in Ryder Cup matches there four years ago.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 137th Open Championship