Padraig Harrington finally broke his two-year winless streak on Sunday with a victory at the Asian Tour’s Iskandar Jopor Open in Malaysia. Closing with a 69 for a -20 total, the Irishman managed to secured a win that, from Saturday onwards, had never really looked in doubt. The man himself seemed more relieved than joyous:
“Two years is a long time, especially when you’re reminded every week you play… It’s nice and very important for me to win. It’s somewhat of a monkey off your back.”
Anyone who had paid attention to Harrington’s demeanour over the Ryder Cup would have been struck by his lack of confidence. Looking a little gaunt, he seemed to spend the weekend emerging periodically from a cloud of anxiety and self-doubt to hit a shot, give a brief interview, or read a putt for Ross Fisher. As one journo had it, his Monday singles match was a case of “Harrington vs. Himself vs. Zach Johnson.” After a season of wild inconsistency and the occasional controversy, it seemed to many that his previously obvious frustration ran the risk of turning to apathy.
One can appraise this week’s performance, then, with more than a little hope. Four days of consistently good golf (a feat Harrington hasn’t achieved for quite some time) to head a field that was, if not world class, certainly competitive; it’s surely the stuff on which a more positive outlook can be built. Maybe his new burst of confidence goes some way toward explaining this bizarre post-round quote– either that, or something was lost in translation early on, then mangled on its passage through the various news agencies:
“There’s no doubt that it was my week to win… If you had followed me for four days, I don’t think anyone would have questioned that my name was written on the trophy before the tournament started.”
Harrington will now take two weeks off to nurse a neck injury suffered during the course of Saturday’s third round before returning to Asia.
Incidentally, Sunday’s second-place finisher was the current leader of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, Noh Seung-yul of Korea. The 19-year-old has to be by far the most underrated of international golf’s supposed “young guns” (what a golf swing!).