Pádraig Harrington might be the eternal optimist but he admits that time is starting to run out if he’s to add the green jacket of Masters champion to his Major collection.
Winner of the Honda Classic on Monday, Harrington has vowed to bask all week in the glory of his first PGA Tour win for nearly seven years and just “savour the moment” rather than worrying too much about what it all means.
In the short term, he has a huge scheduling headache to sort out as he’s unlikely now to take up all four sponsors invitations he has secured before the Masters and plans to sit down with his manager and work out a solution.
But when it comes to long term goals, the 43-year old knows that some of them are not going to be attainable forever and that’s especially true of the Masters.
“I’ll probably say ‘it doesn’t have to be this week’ when I get to Augusta but I am becoming more aware that with the Masters I may have no more than six or seven more goes,”; said Harrington, who is exempt for the The Open and the US PGA for some years to come.
“In that sense, there is a finality to it with the Masters. I know I am not bulletproof anymore.”
Back to 82nd in the world, Harrington insists he’s got more Majors in his locker but he’s not declaring that he’s “back” until he contends more regularly and proves that his win wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
“There are Majors left in me,” he said. “I’ll go down the Phil Mickelson road on this one. We won’t leave it at one. Let’s say majors.”
Still, it’s consistency he craves, explaining: “Basically I don’t want to be 600-1 to win the next tournament. I want to be a solid, consistent performer, who can be expected to win every so often, rather than the flash in the pan.”
He confessed he had massive doubts that he would ever come back as he struggled to conquer the putting yips and with Tiger Woods now battling the chipping yips, Harrington is not ready to write off the 14-time major winner just yet and believes he might even be an inspiration to him.
“Tiger could be looking at me thinking, ‘Paddy had a slump and he’s come back’,” Harrington said. “Hopefully, it could be a positive thing for Tiger. He’s got so much ability he doesn’t need to be back dominating the way he did in order to be back winning, and winning Majors.”
Asked if he’d had major doubts that he’d ever come back himself, Harrington said: “Oh absolutely. When you have got the yips, that’s a big doubt. That’s a hard thing to get through. Really, really hard.
“But it gave me confidence that I did get through it.”
Woods may be inspired by Harrington but the Dubliner is more worried about pushing on to play in the Olympics and the Ryder Cup next year.
Confirming he had congratulatory texts from European skipper Darren Clarke, he said: “The Ryder Cup is a huge deal to me and this win pushes me into the bigger events that get me the ranking points that will get me there.
“And it will have a bigger effect on my challenging to get into the top 15 in the world to get into the Olympics.
“So this win is big stepping stone to help me, if I do perform going forward. I just had to get past this first hurdle.”
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