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Matters of the Mind

It is a matter of public record that Padraig Harrington won over a million dollars on Sunday at Carnoustie with his Open Championship victory. However, in a move that is nothing short of shocking in todays golf world, Harrington opted to skip the Scottish Open one week earlier, and a potential payday of over one million dollars, when he committed to play in the Irish PGA Championship at the European Club. Potential payday for winning that event: $25,000!
In case you are thinking that Harrington overlooked a couple of decimal points, dont count on it. Harrington was educated as an accountant and his reasons were as planned out as a forensic audit.
The European Club is arguably Irelands most challenging links golf course. Harrington reasoned that he would benefit more from a week of competitive links golf experience than he would playing at Loch Lomond, the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course that, while also challenging and beautiful, it is not a links golf course, more like an American course. Perhaps on such an American-styled golf course it should not come as a surprise that one of Americas biggest golf stars, Phil Mickelson, contended. So in the Republic of Ireland, where Padraig Harrington is his countrys equivalent to Tiger Woods in popularity and hype, Harringtons entry into the Irish PGA is roughly monetarily equivalent to Tiger entering the Massachusetts Open (which actually has a higher purse for first place).
As it turned out, a competitive links experience was what Harrington got, winning the event in sudden-death over Brendan McGovern.
It definitely helped me. Just getting used to the fact that you could hit 7-iron into the wind and it's only going to go 125 yards. That just doesn't happen in our regular golf. We're used to hitting a 7-iron 180 yards into a slight breeze because it's warm.
All of a sudden you go to a links course and that same little breeze is taking 20, 30 yards off the shot, noted Harrington after the Open. Today I just worked hard and I think I just drew on all my experience of playing links golf and honestly convinced myself I was going to win.
convinced myself I was going to win, Hmmm, interesting, and perhaps another insight into the heart of a champion. I do not think I have ever seen or read about a golfer winning a major championship and not found some measure of inspiration in their accomplishment. Almost every victory required some kind of commitment, sacrifice and often times, the doing of the very thing that everyone else would advise against. Most of all, these champions had an unwavering belief in their abilities, and that, I believe, is the most important attribute of them all.
Jack Nicklaus said that you win major championships with your mind. That could well be the case when one considers that Harrington nearly blew his chances for victory by hitting the wrong club off the tee at 18 on Sunday. Yet, through the near Van de Velde-esque collapse after hitting his drive into the Barry Burn, and then, incredibly after taking a penalty and drop, hit his next shot into the Burn, you would think that he would simply collapse into the fetal position and concede. Yet, he recovered with what he called a good double-bogey' -- and in retrospect, that is exactly what it was, helped in such perspective by Garcias bogey on the same hole to secure the playoff. Through it all, Harringtons strongest asset was his mind.
I didnt allow myself to get down about taking six at the last, he revealed. I convinced myself all along I was going to win and that if it was a playoff, I would do the business.
Harringtons taking-care-of-business perspective was in sharp contrast to that of Garcia, who was understandably dejected after the tournament.
Every time I get in this position, I never have any room for error. I should write a book on how not to miss a shot and not win a playoff, noted the 27 year-old Spaniard. You know whats the saddest thing about it? Its not the first timeSo I dont know, Im playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field.
While it is unclear what he meant by more than the field, I would guess he was referring to himself and his suspect putting stroke in pressure situations. Garcia is one of the finest strikers of the ball in all of the game, but his putting does not seem to match his long ball. His new belly putter certainly seemed to improve his putting, but in only less than a week of employment in his bag and forced into service the week of a major, it is understandable that the belly putter deserves more time before a final judgment can be made. The fact is that if Garcia made only one more putt anywhere in the tournament, but in particular, down the stretch on Sunday, he would have won his first major championship. The question that now remains is whether Garcia views his near-miss as a call to action to shore up his putting or if he will simply explain it away to a victims mentality.
You only watch the guys that make the putts and get the good breaks and things like that, Garcia informed the media during his press conference.
Golfers including Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, and Nick Faldo, among others, all believed that good luck and bad luck come to all golfers in equal measure, only it is the champions who fight through the adversity and take advantage of second chances when they get them. Such was Harringtons perspective on Sunday afternoon.
in my head, going out into that playoff, there was a little bit of, Ive got a second chance. I didnt have a down after the round, which I think was very important.
Important enough to make Harrington the first European to win a major since Paul Lawrie triumphed in a playoff at Carnoustie in 1999, and the first Irishman to win the Open since Fred Daly in 1947.
My goal was always to win more than one major, he revealed.
Given Harringtons hard work, preparation, planning and conviction, it is a safe bet that we havent seen the last of him hoisting trophies at majors.
Copyright 2007 Matthew E. Adams Fairways of Life
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Editor's Note: Matt Adams is a golf journalist and best-selling author (Chicken Soup for the Soul, Fairways of Life) and a golf course general manager. To view Matt's books or sign up for his 'Golf Wisdom Newsletter,'go to