Padraig Harrington with the Claret Jug & Wanamaker Trophies in 2008
In 2008, Padraig Harrington won the British Open for the second year in a row and also captured the PGA Championship. He finished the year with over $4 million in earnings on the PGA Tour and was second in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour with another $2.5 million in prize money.
Harrington has won 14 European Tour events, five PGA Tour titles as well as four other worldwide tournaments. He even won the European Order of Merit in 2006 and was that tour’s Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008.
The last three years have not been so kind to Harrington, who turned 40 years old this year. He has fallen to No. 81 in the Official World Golf Rankings and will miss the lucrative WGC events, Masters and U.S. Open if he does not get off to a fast start in 2012.
Paddy is a tinkerer. Somewhat like Tiger Woods, he is always seeking perfection in his golf swing mechanics and overall game. Harrington was never the longest off the tee or even the straightest, but his short game was superb and more than that his grit and overwhelming will to succeed turned sure-bogeys into pars.
Soon after winning the PGA Championship in 2008, he decided to change some swing mechanics that have never seemed work. Moreover, they have affected his putting and save statistics have also gone downhill. If you hit it short and crooked plus you don’t get it up and down for par saves you will struggle on any professional golf circuit.
Other Irish golfers—Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke—have won major titles over the past two seasons while Harrington has fallen behind.
Harrington is a three-time major champion and has been one of the best golfers in the world. Will he be content to enter his 40s as a guy who earns a lot of money but is really never a factor, let alone never wins a major or even a regular tour event again?
The future is hard to predict; but it is difficult to believe that Harrington won’t continue to tinker until he finds the right combination to get him back onto the trophy stand again.