Harrington was speaking to an illustrious group of guests at the Bóthar Golf With Stars competition at the K Club in Co Kildare where several of the country’s most noted personalities from the world of rugby, soccer, horse racing and other codes took part.
Harrington, fresh from victory in the Johor Open in Malaysia spoke of the manner in which his career has fluctuated. He pointed out that at one stage he was in third position behind Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods but accepted that he had gone through a valley period subsequently.
“I am now satisfied that I had to change to get better and while that took time it has begun to work for me again,” he said. “I badly needed that win in Malaysia. It’s not a case that I ever doubted myself because that was never the case and never will be the case but I understand why people kept asking me was I ever going to win again. It had been quite a while since I bridged that gap and now I am much more comfortable in myself.”
Harrington took part in a Q&A session with a number of the personalities and revealed how happy he was at being voted Ireland’s Greatest Ever Sportsman over the last couple of months.
“I was sceptical of that kind of stuff beforehand because that can often be quite fickle,” he admitted. “But on reflection it is something I am very chuffed about because it was something I might never have won again. You tend to think that you win these things when you retire but I didn’t realise how much it could mean to me until I got the award. It was a case of allowing myself to enjoy something that for once was outside my own control.”
When asked to compare his contribution to Europe’s Ryder Cup victory with his win in Malaysia last week a broad grin emerged on his face but he stressed that there could be no comparing.
“There we would have had a conversation he quipped. At the Ryder Cup good golf is ordered of you whereas when you are competing individually it’s a case of doing everything for yourself. In the Ryder Cup you are constantly under pressure every round and it can be very nerve wracking. I can honestly say I have never been as nervous as I was on the first tee at Celtic Manor and that is it’s own indication of what the Ryder Cup means to guys who play for themselves week in, week out.”
Harrington was last night attending a surprise 60th birthday party for his mother-in-law Mary Gregan before getting his game back in trim for preparation for major tournaments at the beginning of November. Listening attentively were horse racing personalities of the calibre of Ruby Walsh, Conor O’Dwyer, and Charlie Swan along with rugby stars of the recent past like Malcolm O’Kelly and Denis Hickie and star Kerry footballer Tomas O’Sé.
The first prize went to the team captained by Hickie and completed by Owen Rogers, Terry Smith and Gilbert White. In second place came Tomas O’Se’s team completed by Michael McHugh, Fred Cavanagh and Philip Maguire and in third spot came Conor O’Dwyer with Carlos Dunne, John Dunne and James Mahon. Pat O’Brien won the long drive competition and the nearest to the pin prize went to Carlos Dunne.