Pádraig Harrington focuses on getting the attitude right
Despite a knee injury the Irishman is keen to reclaim the PGA title he won in 2008
Pádraig Harrington: “I have more clubhead speed now than I ever had in my career.” Photograph: Phil Long/AP Photo
What is it with our walking wounded? First, Rory McIlroy’s ankle – thankfully mended after intensive treatment and rehabilitation away from prying eyes in Portugal – and now Pádraig Harrington’s knee, which will likely see him make another visit to the surgery, though not until the off-season in the winter.
Harrington is the type who puts a brave face on these things. Whatever is required – be it keyhole surgery or with a scalpel – can wait until the Christmas period, his traditional rest time. This means he can get on with on-course matters and most immediately the PGA Championship here in Kohler, Wisconsin.
A cortisone injection has at least tempered some of the pain on an injury that came from playing tennis with his kids and was then destabilised by a post-tennis workout in the gym.
“It is probably a tear in the meniscus or damage to the cartilage, the problem is we have to wait and see [until after an MRI scan],” said Harrington.
So the million dollar questions: if this wasn’t a Major, would he be playing? “No.”
But will the injury affect his quest to claim the Wanamaker Trophy? “No.” With an addendum: in typical Harrington fashion, he says his mind is actually on other things . . . his mind. Or, as he put it, his “attitude”.
Harrington, who picked up his third career Major when winning the PGA title in 2008, said: “All I am working on is attitude, no technique at all. I’m just trying to find the right attitude . . . not to worry about the outcome, trying to be more accepting of missing putts.
“You get into grooves like that where you think you can’t afford to miss, you think you have got to play great or hole everything. You get caught up in that when your results aren’t as good as you want them to be and you want to have a big week.
“Whereas, if things were going well, you are turning up and things are falling into place, you are not worrying about the odd missed putt. You are probably going to birdie the next hole anyway. I am in the opposite camp at the moment, everything seems to be costly to me.”
“He won’t tell me anything new but it is reminding . . . it is just reminding yourself of stuff and there is nothing that comes up ever that you go, ‘Wow, this is new to me’, but there is stuff you forget.”
Part of having that right attitude is also getting his head around the fact that he is almost 20 years on the road as a professional tour player.
Physically, his age – 43 – is not a factor.
“I have more clubhead speed now than I ever had in my career. I’d be more worried about a 20-year career than age, so if you start at 18, you’re finished at 38. If you start at 24, you’re finished at 44. You’ve got to understand the nature of the game. Your Faldos, your Woosies, your Lyles, probably even Monty, none of them made 20 years. I’m trying to be different and get past that,” he said.
“You could argue that Jim Furyk has, and you could probably pick one or two that has, but most of the guys, if they’ve achieved their goal in their career, and clearly I have over-achieved in the sense that I wouldn’t have had those goals, it’s hard to keep going afterwards.”
“I am way too harsh on myself on the putting at the moment,” he said.
The time spent with Dr Bob will hopefully help change that attitude to his putting, if not cure his knee. That’s another story.