Pádraig Harrington to work at getting back to where he believes he belongs
Final day was one of disappointment for the Irish quartet who made the cut
Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington in action during the final day of the British Open at Muirfield. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
As Pádraig Harrington sat down on the step, his hands propped behind as he finally relaxed in the mixed zone with his work done, did we see a hint of wistfulness? Maybe. Or, maybe not. This latest instalment of golf’s oldest championship may have come and gone, but Harrington – a two-time winner of the British Open, a three-time Major champion in all and the man who inspired a generation of his peers to follow in his footsteps – isn’t done for yet. Not by a long shot.
With his 42nd birthday just around the corner, Harrington isn’t about to change the habit of a lifetime and start to take things easy. No lie-ins. No dodging the hard work.
“No, that won’t happen,” he agreed. “The three Majors or one Major or two Majors [won] doesn’t make it any easier when you’re playing. It only makes it easier [to appreciate] when you stop, and I have no intention of stopping. . . the frustration is of not getting to that high again. The reward for it is when you stop [playing], so I’m happy to put up with those frustrations for the moment.”
In other words, Harrington will work as hard as ever and try to get back to where he believes he belongs. In the coming weeks that means going to the Reno-Tahoe Open on the US Tour instead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he hasn’t qualified for. After that, in a little over two weeks, it will be the season’s final Major, the US PGA at Oak Hill.
Yesterday was a day of disappointment in the main for the quartet of Irish players who survived the cut; although Harrington, who finished with a 70 for 295, and Lowry, with a 70 for 293 that lifted him into a top-35 finish, had rather more pep than their Northern comrades. Darren Clarke had the distinction of finishing as leading Irishman with a closing 72 for 291 but a bogey-bogey close-out left him in no mood to hang around for a chat afterwards. Graeme McDowell finished with a 77 for 296 on a difficult afternoon.
Yet amid the disappointment there was a belief that the Claret Jug will someday find a way on to someone’s sideboard. Self-belief is the most important club in the bag.
As Lowry remarked: “I’m only 26 and I need to play in as many majors as I can. I want to play in them all. I think in two, three, four years’ time I’ll be going into major championships trying to compete and trying to win them. I’m not really going out there and trying to compete, although if it does happen I’ll be delighted. But I definitely feel I’m good enough [for that]) to happen, but I just think I need to get a bit more experience in them.”
McDowell wasn’t too despondent, apportioning some of the blame on his closing 77 with a tendency to hit the ball left off the tee and struggling with the pace of the greens.
“I have to remember, I won two weeks ago [in the French Open] . . . I’ve a huge month to look forward to. I’m going to Canada for the RBC Canadian Open next week and Firestone [the WGC-Bridgestone], the PGA [at Oak Hill] and the FedEx playoffs. And then I might get married. I’m pretty busy the next seven or eight weeks coming up, and I’m looking forward to them.”