The bizarre redemption of Padraig Harrington
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/2/15

Last week, the 297th-ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking won a PGA Tour event when James Hahn won in Los Angeles. This morning, the 297th-ranked golfer on the OWGR won again.

And this time, it's Pádraig Harrington.

Until this morning, Harrington's last PGA Tour victory was at a major — the 2008 PGA Championship. But his victory anywhere in the world was on December 7 at the Indonesia Open.

In a week where The Bear Trap, the closing sequence of holes at PGA National, chewed up and spat out golfers like an owl, Harrington was among those who felt the bite:

The 54-hole leader, Ian Poulter, managed to birdie the final two holes, but a few "soft" shots before then cost him dearly. A cold-shanked tee-shot resulted in a double at the par-3 5th. A tee-shot in the water at the 6th cost him a bogey. His approach to the 11th wound up in the water, costing him another double-bogey. And a vicious slice at the 14th cost him a triple bogey. In the end, Poulter finished in a three-way tie for third place with the resurgent Paul Casey and the young Scotsman Russell Knox.

Patrick Reed was mostly smooth on Sunday and Monday, and put himself in contention with a birdie at the par-4 14th. Then came the Bear Trap: Reed dumped his tee-shot at 15 into the water and suffered a costly double-bogey. Reed avoided the water at 16, but stumbled away with another bogey. At the par-3 17th hole, Reed cleared the water but landed in the rough and suffered yet another bogey.

On 17 during regulation play, Harrington himself suffered a double-bogey when his tee-shot slid to the right, coming up short of the green in the water. A one-shot lead turned into a one-shot deficit. And at that point, Daniel Berger, a Florida State University product who finished with a final round 64, looked very much like he was just minutes away from capturing his first PGA Tour win.

But the tough Irishman gutted out a beautiful 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th to force a playoff. After matching pars at 18 on the first hole of the sudden-death playoff, Harrington stuck his 5-iron about five feet from the hole at 17, putting the pressure on the 21-year-old Berger. The young Florida native fatted his tee-shot a bit, which came up right and short in the water. And that was the game.

In the end, Berger may have lost a "home game," but clearly he has the game to win at some point on Tour. In this, his rookie season on the big circuit, Berger has fine finishes with a T-13 at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, a T-10 at Phoenix four weeks ago, and another T-10 at Pebble Beach two weeks ago.

In the meantime, Harrington has secured his place on the PGA Tour for two more years and an invitation to play The Masters Tournament early next month.

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[ comments ]
MSchad says:
Way to go Pádraig!!
bkuehn1952 says:
It is impossible for me to listen to Padraig and not think of "Lucky Charms."
Torleif Sorenson says:
mustang6560 says:
I figured he was out of it after he doubled the 17th late.
Torleif Sorenson says:
So did I. I was already preparing to write about Daniel Berger's remarkable rise to the PGA Tour and gaining his first victory (and two-year Tour exemption) in his home region. But then, Harrington calmly sank that birdie at 18 to get into a playoff.

At that point, I knew that anything could happen.
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