Monday, March 2

Padraig Harrington Finds 'Mental Edge'

THE LAST TIME PADRAIG HARRINGTON WON on the PGA Tour Barack Obama was 17 days from being nominated for president of the United States. Harrington won the PGA Championship on August 10, 2008. It was the Irishman's second consecutive major and third overall. "Paddy" was on top of the golf world. There was only one way to go.

Padraig Harrington explained his decline on Feherty
in July 2014. (Golf Channel image)
"There's no doubt on your way back down it's a lot different," Harrington told Golf Channel's Steve Sands after winning the Honda Classic in a sudden-death playoff, "but hopefully this isn't an isolated win."

Harrington made up four shots on the lead over the closing nine holes and sank a birdie on the final green to get into a playoff. (As usual, PGA National was brutal. The winning total was 6 under.) He then closed out the victory when Daniel Berger hit into the water on the treacherous par-3 17th and made double bogey.

The water also drowned the hopes of others.

Ian Poulter started the final round with a three-shot lead. Poulter hit into the water five times during a round that stretched over two days, missing the playoff by a single shot.

"It's a shame to hand tournaments away," Poulter told Sands. "I've handed one away this week. It's going to hurt."

Meanwhile, Harrington, who claimed his first PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic a decade ago, is heading in a better direction.

"I really do believe in myself," he said.

"I think I really found that mental edge that has been lacking the last number of years and, hopefully, I can stick with that going forward and be consistently contending. Because I know if I am contending I can win."

NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller was impressed by what he saw.

"Yesterday we pretty much had written him off because he was going the wrong direction missing short putts," Miller said.

"But you talk about a sweet win. At 43 years old he's gone through the bottom dregs of golf ... from a three-time major champion winner to almost, sort of, embarrassing. And just stuck with it."

Harrington lost his PGA Tour card last year and got into the Honda Classic field with a sponsor's exemption. With the 20th victory of his professional career, Harrington moved from 297 to 82 in the world golf rankings.

If he's not back, he's certainly on his way.

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