'Such a compelling show that viewers forgot about Woods'


PRESS REACTION: PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON'S qualities, on and off the course, would always endear him to the Irish, but the 36-year-old is finding a place in the hearts of a wider audience.

His comportment has long since made him popular with golf galleries, but following Sunday's victory the skills that have made him a three-time major winner are rightly commanding headlines.

Jim McCabe of the Boston Globeenthused: "No matter how good the golf has been, no matter how sweet the rewards, Pádraig Harrington often has talked of a concern that envelops him at the close of every season. Always, he has wondered if he'd still have a gift for the game when he returned. Always, he has found his way around those fears.

"And now, he has done it again, though this time the revelation came to him not at the beginning of a season, but in mid-stride, at a major championship, no less . . .

"That he did so with a putting performance that was one for the ages explains why the Irishman was able to wipe out deficits that seemingly had made for an impossible task. Four strokes back with 10 holes to play? Harrington barely blinked.

"Instead, he used but 12 putts over those final 10 holes, required but 32 scintillating strokes on his back nine, and chased down Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis to lay claim to a historic win."

Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribunewas also effusive: "Pádraig Harrington beat Tiger Woods on several fronts Sunday. That's no small feat in golf, even if Woods is on the sidelines.

"Harrington likely trumped Woods for player-of-the-year honours by winning the PGA Championship for his second straight major title. His unflinching pressure putting made for such a compelling show that viewers forget about Woods, if only for a day.

"In a display reminiscent of Woods, Harrington shot a pair of 66s . . . (with) one of the greatest putting performances this side of Woods."

The Dallas Newsincluded an interesting quote from Charlie Wi, who played alongside Harrington and Garcia on Sunday. The Korean observed: "I turned to my caddie on 16 and said, 'God, this is a lot of fun just to watch.' Paddy is just so mentally tough, and he's a great putter. When he gets an opportunity, he always takes advantage of it."

The Detroit Free Presswas critical of Garcia, running the headline, "Irishman makes big shots whiles Sergio settles for bridesmaid again."

Randall Mell of the Los Angeles Timeswrote, "Harrington, 36, has stepped forcefully into the vacuum created when Tiger Woods was sidelined for the season . . . Harrington has done so with fierce closing skills under intense final-round major championship pressure."

Mell then quoted Ben Curtis: "The way Pádraig played was pretty unbelievable. Those two guys were making birdies all day, and you could hear the crowd. So it was kind of fun. Winning three of the last six majors, that's like Tiger right there.

"If (Harrington) keeps playing like this, I would say 'Watch out, Jack (Nicklaus). He's won three of the last six majors - that's Tiger-like right there."

In the New York TimesLarry Dorman summed up as follows: "There is no more waiting for Harrington. This is his time. After a late entry into the major-winning elite at age 35, Harrington has two major championships in 21 days, a most unlikely feat."

The Washington Postran the headline, "A New Major Force," Leonard Shapiro reporting: "In conditions of occasional spitting rain and constant gusting winds more akin to golf on Scottish links . . . Pádraig Harrington picked up exactly where he had left off at Royal Birkdale last month, and Carnoustie last year, rolling in putt after critical putt down the stretch in the 90th PGA Championship to break Sergio García's heart one more time."

In Spain the sports pages focused on Garcia's heartbreak. El Mundoran the headline, "Harrington Embitters Garcia Again," and noted the Irishman's ability to handle the pressure.

"A self-confessed follower of Real Madrid, he (García) is destined to suffer like Atletico. This is how it has always been, and this is what happened in Oakland Hills when everything was going his way until he shot a ball into the water on the 16th and couldn't get over a bunker on the 18th.

"The man from Castellón played like never before only to end losing as always. And if there is something García has learned it is mental strength, something Harrington has had in spades all year."

No argument there.