Out of Bounds: A decade on from Harrington’s first Major . . .
Dubliner's desire to perform and compete and possibly win is as strong as it ever was
Padraig Harrington celebrates after winning the 136th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland in 2007. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ten years, a decade. Hasn’t time flown? But some things never change, and the chances are - rightly - that Pádraig Harrington, the player who kick-started it all, be it Ireland’s golden generation of players winning Majors (nine) in that time span or the resurgence of Europeans on that big stage, will be found on the range. He is.
Ten years ago, this tournament didn’t exist on the PGA European Tour. Harrington is here at the Turkish Airlines Open because he sought and got a sponsor’s invitation. You see, he likes the place. Last year, when a number of players cancelled out because of security fears, Harrington was among those who came and liked what he saw.
That he needed a sponsor’s invitation tells you all that you need to know about where Harrington is in what has been a season hampered by injury and surgery. But the desire to perform and compete and possibly win is as strong as it ever was, and - at 46 years of age - Harrington is only too aware that all it takes is for it all to click into place in any given week. If not here this week, then maybe the Nedbank in Sun City (another sponsor’s invitation) or, after that, the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia, later this month.
This week is a chance for Harrington, a bonus week as it were. Any prize money won here in Turkey won’t count towards the order of merit, he knows. “But if I win I won’t be too worried about that, will I? I’m happy to be here and give myself a chance,” says Harrington, who retains that competitive edge even in a year which, in his own words, “hasn’t been great” due to the neck injury and subsequent surgery which affected the first part of the year’s campaign.
It’s 10 years since Harrington’s breakthrough Major championship win came in the British Open at Carnoustie (his first of three Major titles), and the Dubliner’s work ethic remains as strong now as it did then.
“I’m more concerned with where my head is at rather than my golf game, which is always a good sign. (The mental side) is a work in progress: just try and do the right things, and the more you do it the easier it gets. The golf game is fine; it’s definitely all about the thought process.”
That Harrington sought a sponsor’s invitation to be here says all you need you know about his competitiveness. The aim, as ever, is to win again. He has three chances left this season, starting here in Turkey, next week in South Africa and then the PGA Tour event in Sea Island.
Harrington’s status for the 2017/’18 season on the PGA Tour will comprise competing on a minor medical exemption (nine tournaments) and then on sponsors’ invitations, having decided not to use his career money exemption. It means he will have a strong tournament schedule . . . but not in the WGCs or the Masters.
Not yet. Of course, a tournament win would help change that. Starting with Turkey?