Paddy returns to the winner’s circle
By Peter Santo
Who knew that 297 would be such a lucky number? For the second week in a row, the 297th ranked player in the world won a PGA Tour event. A week after James Hahn captured the Northern Trust Open in a playoff for his first career victory Padraig Harrington defeated Daniel Berger in a playoff for his first win since 2008.
The return to the winner’s circle was a long time coming for the three-time major champion. Harrington reached a career high ranking of number 3 in the world after his third major victory at the 2008 PGA Championship. However shortly thereafter he decided to try and fix what wasn’t broken, and in the process fell far outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Harrington’s play became so bad that he eventually lost his PGA Tour card. Once his five-year exemption for winning major championships ended in late 2013, Harrington was forced to rely on his past champion status and sponsors’ exemptions to gain entry into Tour events.
Harrington’s victory in more than 5 years certainly did not come without some late fireworks. Paddy appeared out of it after a difficult day on Sunday, but 4 birdies on the back nine on Monday, including a 15 foot birdie putt at 18, forced a playoff with Daniel Berger.
After both players made par at the first playoff hole, the playoff moved to the par 3 17th. Harrington looked to exorcise the demons from regulation, when he hit his tee shot into the water and made double bogey.
However this time it was Berger who found the water, and it was all but over after Harrington knocked his tee shot stiff.
With the victory Harrington earns a two-year exemption on Tour, and will no longer have to rely on sponsors’ exemptions to gain entry into tournaments.
Wondering how one would celebrate his first win in five years? Well Harrington celebrated in a way only he can, by enjoying a burger at Five Guys.
However the final round did not go on without issue, with many following the final group questioning how they were not on the clock for slow play. After re-watching coverage of the final round, I noticed how slow the final group (mainly Harrington) was playing. Harrington is one of the slowest players I have ever seen on the PGA Tour, the low point coming when he took 25 minutes to play the 17th hole in regulation. I would put him second only to the infamous Kevin Na.
Slow play is certainly a big issue in the world of golf, with players and officials continuing to come up with ways to improve pace of play. But I guess everything goes out the window when you win right? This is not how it should be, just ask Guan Tianlang, the 14 year old who was given a one-stroke penalty for slow play at the 2013 Masters.
No matter how fast or slow he plays, the smooth talking Irishman is certainly a fan favorite on Tour, and many people throughout the golf world are thrilled to see him finding success again.