Keane delves deep in pursuit of Harrington


Inside Pádraig Harrington’s Head, Obsessed, by Paul Keane(Irish Sports Publishing) Quite why anybody would wish to peer inside Pádraig Harrington’s head may be a mystery to some, but it’s a challenge that Paul Keane embraces as he attempts to assess exactly what makes the three-time Major champion tick. Harrington has always been unwilling to work on a book until the clubs are tucked away in the garage, when he can lay all his cards on the table, but the lack of co-operation from the main protagonist doesn’t necessarily hurt.

Notoriously candid in his dealings with the press, Harrington has spoken at length over the years about all aspects of his game, but it is the quality of the many interviews that Keane sought out that give the real insight into how the Dubliner has gone about his business. Quite early on we are told that Harrington’s father, Paddy, warned his coach Bob Torrance that his son had a “funny mind, but a good mind”, a unique and driven personality that would leave no stone unturned to become the best he could possibly be.

By no means the most gifted player of his generation, stories of the Dubliner bashing balls on the range until his hands would bleed are legion. But Keane delves deeper, examining his mental approach, the minute attention to detail that enabled Harrington to claim three Majors in little over a year before breaking everything down in pursuit of further greatness.

Only time will tell whether that has turned out to be a fool’s errand, but with Obsessed we at least have a sense of why the choices were made.

Christy — From Rough to Fair Ways, by Christy O’Connor Jnr(Paperweight) In many ways, Christy O’Connor Jnr paved the way for Ireland’s recent Major success, the Galway man getting his hands dirty at the coalface of the European Tour in a different era to the one enjoyed by today’s stars.

From scraping together a few quid here and there trying to remove himself from the shadow of his illustrious uncle, O’Connor Jnr carved out a career on the fledgling tour that proved there was a decent living to be made for Irish pros on the European circuit.

Best remembered for that famous two iron at the Belfry in 1989 – it is actually away from the course that O’Connor’s real story is told.

Nothing is off-limits, not the fondness for a party that undoubtedly cost him during what he has referred to as his wasted years. And certainly not the tragic death of his young son, Darren, at the age of 17, nor his own brush with death in a helicopter crash. But for all the sadness, O’Connor looks back with a smile on a life worth living.

The Irish Majors: Irish Golf’s Magnificent Seven, by Philip Reid(Gill Macmillan) If some soothsayer had predicted early in the summer of 2007 that Irish golfers would go on to annexe the Majors, winning seven in the intervening years, they would have been laughed out of town. Given the recent dominance of golfers from this Ireland, it’s now easy to forget that we had yielded just one such trophy before Pádraig Harrington opened the floodgates at Carnoustie.

Since then, only the US can match Ireland’s strike rate as Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke went on to pick up the baton. Few writers are better qualified, even if we do say so ourselves, to chart Ireland’s golden era than The Irish Times golf correspondent Philip Reid. And in The Irish Majors Reid chronicles a remarkable run of success that is unlikely ever to be repeated.

In doing so, he doesn’t get bogged down in play-by-play reportage, although we are taken through the many twists and turns of the championships. Instead, he looks at how each of our new champions got from there to here, before taking readers behind the scenes on those special weeks.

An Open Book — My Autobiography, by Darren Clarke(Hodder Stoughton) At the age of 44, it may seem a touch indulgent to be releasing your second autobiography. That said, Wayne Rooney – 17 years his junior – has two tomes to his name so Darren Clarke is at least in good company. Following on from Heroes All, his account of the 2006 Ryder Cup win, the Ulster man hangs this latest effort on his emotional 2011 British Open win.

There’s always been a touch of the Marmites about Darren Clarke, with the mention of his name likely to divide opinion. But it is hard not to feel for Clarke as he details his wife’s ultimately futile battle with cancer and the effect her death had on his two sons. The fact that Clarke was able to rebuild his life, before finally shaking off that nearly man tag when arriving at the British Open is, indeed, a tale worth retelling.

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