Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Stopped Beating Myself Up: Padraig

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Stopped Beating Myself Up: Padraig

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Padraig Harrington told himself enough was enough. He simply could not go on as he was.

"You can't beat yourself up when things are going badly," he said. "I had to change my attitude. I had to get away from it and not beat myself up if results didn't happen."

That was around the time of the British Masters in May as Harrington, third on the Order of Merit in 2004 and down to 32nd last season, continued to search for the form which, for a while, had made him Europe's top player in the world.

It would be another five months before he tasted victory again and there were more big disappointments along the way. But that decision was the saviour of Harrington this year.

He believes it is why he is, after a dramatic climax to the season, the new European Tour number one.

"If I still had the attitude I had earlier in the year I never would be in this position," added Harrington, who with pounds 1.66m pipped Paul Casey to the money list title by pounds 23,616 ( thanks to the fact Sergio Garcia bogeyed the final hole of the final event on Sunday.

He is the first Irishman to claim the Harry Vardon Trophy since Ronan Rafferty in 1989.

And he is the first from the Republic to do so since Christy O'Connor in 1962.

Like Colin Montgomerie last year, Harrington achieved the feat despite winning only once ( and like Montgomerie again it was the Dunhill links pro-am at St Andrews.

Until then the race looked set to be a straight duel between long-time leader David Howell and Casey, who went top by capturing the pounds 1m HSBC World Match Play first prize at Wentworth the week before the Ryder Cup.

But Harrington's victory lifted him above Howell, who by then was suffering more shoulder trouble, and his closing 69 in Spain settled the closest finish since Montgomerie sank a three-foot par putt on the final green to deny Sam Torrance in 1995.

That was the year Harrington turned professional, after winning a third Walker Cup cap against an American team which included a youngster by the name of Tiger Woods.

Everybody knew Woods was going to be an instant star in the paid ranks but nobody knew what was in store for Harrington ( including himself. "Ten years ago I would have been happy to be a journeyman pro, finishing 70-75th each year," he said. …

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