Padraig Harrington: Golf's New Legend

J. Michael MorrisSenior Analyst IAugust 10, 2008

Padraig Harrington’s PGA Championship win vaults him into professional golf’s top ten players of all time. Is this just another crazy opinion? No.

Here is the list of people who have three majors in two adjacent seasons:

Sam Snead

Gene Sarazen

Bobby Jones

Ben Hogan

Arnold Palmer

Jack Nicklaus

Lee Trevino

Tom Watson

Nick Faldo

Tiger Woods

And now Padraig Harrington, who makes eleven.

This could be the most exclusive club in golf’s history books.

I’m actually having a pretty tough time accepting the fact that Harrington has joined it. He has also won three majors in two years, the first with Tiger Woods in the field.

The real question is why didn’t we see it coming? Sports fans are infamous for their wild predictions of a hot player’s imminent success. Is it because Harrington hasn’t had much exposure outside of Europe? In this Tiger-centric industry some of the others might get shortchanged in the hype department. Padraig Harrington has notched 13 European Tour victories and now three PGA tour wins, among many other non-sanctioned professional titles.

He's already Ireland's hero. Besides defeating Sergio Garcia in back to back major championships, he ended a 25 year losing streak for the Irish in their own open. He's been an integral part of the dominate European Ryder Cup team  four times and will be the most feared matchup for the Americans again this year.

I certainly expected this level of success from more than one other player who hasn’t delivered. I am surprised it hasn’t happened for Mickelson, Els, or Vijay.

I have a list in my head of at least twenty players who had more winning potential than Padraig Harrington. But then again, my opinion of who the great players are is probably as much a product of media hype and promotional fan steering than anything else. Sometimes statistics are shocking.

Is there a way to discount these facts and diminish this accomplishment? After all, Tiger Woods wasn’t in the field, twice. The PGA Championship is the easiest major. The Open Championship was an aberration because the ridiculous weather made it a battle of attrition. Besides, Padraig was the defending champion and had extra motivation to win.

I don’t think any of that will stick.

Where was Phil? Why hasn’t he taken advantage of a missing Tiger?

How about all of the “young guns”? Misfired?

In the imbalanced world of fan opinions, I hope this throws a little weight on to Harrington’s side of the scale. Why wouldn't he be the favorite to win next April's Masters.

He has, by posting back to back 66’s in the final two rounds and taking home the Wanamaker Trophy Sunday, leapfrogged in the history books all other non-American players who are currently competing.

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