Harrington eyes greater glory after repeat win

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Padraig Harrington never tires of reading the fine print on the silver claret jug, and as he stood up from a table Monday morning at Royal Birkdale, he slowly turned golfs oldest trophy to see his name on consecutive rows.
 
There were 126 names. Its also worth noting what wasnt on the jug.
 
I dont think this champion has anything to worry about with asterisks etched next to his name, Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said. He proved that last year.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington will go for three consecutive Open wins next year at Turnberry. (Getty Images)
The bluster at the start of this British Open was whether the winner should get full credit because Tiger Woods couldnt play. That was long forgotten after Harrington shot a 32 over his final nine holes in 30 mph wind to follow Woods as a back-to-back champion.
 
The only question is how much more the Irishman can achieve.
 
Winning the first major last year the reflection on that was, Guys have won one major. Lets try to set yourself apart and win two, Harrington said Monday after his four-shot victory moved him up to No. 3 in the world. Now that Ive got two, Im in a different club now. Whats the next club? I will have time to reflect and reset some new goals. Youve got to keep pushing.
 
The next target presumably is winning a major other than the British Open, and his next chance is coming quickly. The PGA Championship starts in three weeks at Oakland Hills outside Detroit.
 
But that can wait.
 
Harrington took a phone call from Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland, and was still sorting through more than 100 text messages. The first sip from the claret jug was John Smiths Smooth Bitter, just like last year, although the champion was pleased that when the party ended about 4 a.m., and he emptied the jug, he tasted a few drops of claret.
 
This wasnt as exhilarating as his playoff victory at Carnoustie last year over Sergio Garcia, perhaps because that was his first major and the engraver had to wait until the final putt before going to work.
 
This time around was a more determined effort. It was more satisfying and in many ways more rewarding, Harrington said. To have done it back-to-back is very special. To have two majors is very special. But I think what I take most from it is going out in the last group and performing when I needed to.
 
Playing golf in the final round of a major when its put up to you is a nice feeling.
 
The presence of 53-year-old Greg Norman with a one-shot lead going to the back nine and Ian Poulter making a late charge in his pink pants made it difficult to appreciate what Harrington did late Sunday afternoon.
 
Of the last 10 players on the course, nine of them averaged a 40 on the back nine. Harrington shot 32.
 
Woods won the U.S. Open on one good leg, and to a much lesser extent, it can be said that Harrington won the British Open with only one good hand. He injured his right wrist the Saturday before the British Open by swinging a club into a bean bag, much like Henry Cotton used to swing into a tire to strengthen his wrists.
 
Harrington has odd practice habits, but they are not without purpose.
 
He often practices hitting the driver with only his right hand, then only his left hand, and sometimes he putts with one leg on the ground. For years, hes created new drills to keep his interest and challenge his skills.
 
Harrington has a friend who is a 2-handicap, and they have a running bet that Harrington can beat him with one hand. Harrington also has a wager with another friend that he can exceed 170 mph ball speed by swinging with one hand.
 
I can hit one-handed -- this is going to sound ridiculous -- farther than I hit it two-handed, Harrington said. There is a little practicality. It is working on strengthening my right side and left side, working on speed on the right side and left side. The only time I practice, silly as it may look, is to improve my golf. I never waste any time.
 
The 36-year-old Harrington is motivated by fear that he is not the greatest talent in golf and must constantly prove himself. He still remembers when he was 18 and dominating junior golf in Ireland, yet a 20-man panel did not put him on the list of best golfers under 21.
 
Ive never looked like I had the surface talent that many players -- stars of the future -- look to have, he said. Whoever was picking could find reasons that maybe my swing didnt look right. In many ways, Id had to deal with that sort of thing. I learned over the years that its more important whats underneath the surface.
 
Harrington had a hard time returning the claret jug at the start of the week, something which all defending champions are required to do. He mainly kept it on his breakfast table, which is where it was Monday morning as he ate his porridge and looked at the Ryder Cup standings on the Internet, his name atop the list for Europe.
 
It was tough giving it back, he said. Im going to enjoy it even more.
 
Harrington took the jug on many journeys last year, none more amusing than his visit to San Francisco. He was in a cab with two friends, the claret jug in its case on his lap, when he noticed the taxi driver wearing a golf glove on his hand. Harrington began chatting about golf without letting on that he was the British Open champion. Only when he got out of the cab did his friends tell the driver that the claret jug was in that case. The cabbie didnt believe a word.
 
I did have a call from one of the lads, Harrington said. And I promised wed bring the jug to San Francisco and hunt down that taxi driver. Thats one thing Im going to do.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Open Championship
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

    Getty Images

    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

    Getty Images

    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.