Thanks son

2008-01-05 00:00

Padraig Harrington achieved a lifelong ambition by winning last year’s British Open at Carnoustie, where his son Patrick inadvertently inspired him.

Harrington’s hopes of clinching his first major title seemed to have been extinguished during a dramatic collapse on the 72nd hole, but he rallied in the playoff to edge out Spaniard Sergio Garcia by a shot.

The telling moment for the popular Irishman came when his beaming son dashed out on to the 18th green, lifting his spirits for the four-hole playoff, which took place after Garcia bogeyed the last.

“That made a huge difference,” Harrington told Reuters. “Nobody could tell what an effect that had on me. I felt like I had just lost the Open championship. I was devastated. When he ran on to the green, he looked at me like I was the champion and I responded in kind. I walked off the green waving to the crowds as though I had just won the Open championship and carried that mentality all through the wait for Sergio to finish and all the way through the playoff.

“In golf, lots of things happen and a lot of the time I am well in control, whether it’s good or bad,” added Harrington, who twice hit his ball into the notorious Barry Burn en route to a double-bogey six on the 72nd hole.

“But that was one thing outside my control and it had an immense effect. We could tell my son to run on to the green again, but it won’t have the same effect. That was just perfect timing.”

Harrington, who became the first Irish winner of the Open since Fred Daly in 1947 and the first European to claim a major since 1999, is eager to build on his Carnoustie triumph.

“I’ve seen a lot of players who have struggled to maintain the intensity after they have reached a win which is the pinnacle of their career,” said the 36-year-old Dubliner, a 12-time champion on the European Tour.

“I know I’ve got to set some clear goals and I’ve got to do the day-to-day stuff, more or less what I was doing to win the Open in the first place.

“I will be keen to get out there in the new year and follow up on this. I really feel I am improving as a player.”

Harrington, who is scheduled to launch his 2008 season at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi championship from January 17 to 20, has made a habit of never disclosing his golfing ambitions.

“I don’t want to be judged on what my goals are,” he said during last month’s Target World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California where he finished in 10th place, 20 strokes behind winner and tournament host Tiger Woods.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to set some outlandish ones as well as some very immediate ones. I’m all for keeping them private and I will judge myself.”

The most significant factor for the Irishman as he prepares for his 2008 campaign is that he has proved he can win at the highest level.

“Now I know I’m good enough to win majors within myself,” the 2007 European Tour Player of the Year said. “Before, I would have believed I could win a major but I would have thought I had to get a few breaks, get lucky or whatever.

“The Open shows that I can play within myself and win a major.

“I don’t have to get breaks, hole putts or anything like that. And also I feel like I can replicate that.

“It doesn’t mean that every time I go into a major I’m going to win, but certainly the last 18 months I feel that in about 50% of the majors I brought my [best] game.

“If I can bring my game to 50% of the majors I play over the next 10 years, that’s 20 majors I’m going to compete in. And if I compete in 20 majors, I will win some more,” he said.

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