Harrington hopes majors lead to more confidence

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
TRYON, N.C. ' Theres little doubt Padraig Harringtons victories at the British Open and PGA Championships mark him as one of the worlds best golfers.
 
Harrington has started to believe it, too.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington with the Wanamaker Trophy, his second straight major. (Getty Images)
Harrington joined Tiger Woods as the only other golfer this decade to win consecutive majors. Harrington thinks hes closer to adding another Tiger-like trait to his bag ' Woods unflappable confidence.
 
I have traditionally played golf on fear of failure, Harrington said. I believe I need to move to a level where I can use confidence as a way to play better.
 
Harrington looked confident, calm and relaxed Sunday as he spoke at White Oak Golf & Equestrian Community, where the triple major champion is set to build his first U.S. home.
 
He spent the past week since winning the PGA Championship decompressing, away from his home country of Ireland and the spotlight that follows his wins. This was good for me, Harrington said, grinning.
 
Harrington, 36, says hes fueled by the tension that comes from fighting for a title on the back nine, as anyone who watched him take control of the British Open and PGA the past month can attest.
 
Harrington would like to tee off with the same steadfast belief in victory on the first hole as he has on the 72nd.
 
I struggle to play my best golf when theres no pressure, he said. The next level for me is about accepting Im a three-time major winner, taking the confidence from that and that will help me earlier in tournaments so I dont have to put myself through the mill.
 
Harringtons approach worked well enough at the years final two majors.
 
He overcame Greg Normans three-stroke lead over the final nine holes at Royal Birkdale last month to repeat as British champ. Then Harrington rallied back from one stroke down to defeat Sergio Garcia at Oakland Hills to win the PGA.
 
Ive got a deep-down confidence that I can battle through anything, Harrington said. I need to have more flamboyant confidence at the start.
 
Harrington accepts that some will wonder if he ' or anyone else ' wouldve won if Woods, who is out for the season after knee surgery in June, were healthy. Its a valid point, Harrington said. Im not going to worry about it, though.
 
Harrington wants to work on improving his play, no matter who he faces.
 
Harrington returns to action Thursday at The Barclays to start the PGA Tours FedEx Cup playoffs. Harrington stood fourth in points after last week with only Woods, Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson ahead.
 
A bigger stage for Harringtons swagger is the Ryder Cup matches next month at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
 
Harrington was part of the last three winning European squads. This time, he comes in as Europes unquestioned star.
 
Obviously, Ive been the No. 1 European player for six years. It is interesting that it has taken these major wins to get that across, Harrington said.
 
As far as a leadership role, that can only come from the other players, he said. Theres no doubt, Ill always make myself available to help anybody else, but in that sense, winning a couple of majors may make people seek advice from me during that week.
 
White Oak was developed by several Irish businessmen ' some of the courses caps include the Irish flag ' who made Harrington and his family feel at home. Harrington doesnt expect his worldwide schedule to change that much. Hes just happy to have an American base for wife Caroline and their two children when hes on the PGA Tour.
 
Harringtons next challenge? Ensuring he doesnt stop challenging himself.
 
Its such a high in my career, it very easily could be the last high. And many players have failed at this point in the past, he says. Thats the key. I have to set new goals.
 
Count more majors among them. He spent the past few seasons honing his practice schedule to prepare for his sports biggest events, much to the worry of many in his native land, who routinely question why one of their most important sports stars doesnt win more often.
 
Harrington remembers earlier this year: A delivery man asked what had gone wrong with his play even though he had had four top-5 finishes in nine PGA TOUR events prior to the British.
 
You can get drawn into it. Winning can bring more pressure if you allow it, Harrington said. You just have to get yourself into doing your own thing.
Getty Images

Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

Getty Images

Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

Getty Images

Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Getty Images

New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

“You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

Who’s the best at their best?

In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

And he’s far from done.

“For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”