GOLF: Grá le Pádraig!

Harrington feels ‘deep sense of satisfaction and validation’ after Hall of Fame induction

by Gazette Reporter
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CAOMH BREEN ALLEN

Pádraig Harrington said he felt a “deep sense of satisfaction and validation” after being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday night.

The three-time major winner joined 19-time LPGA winner Sandra Palmer as the only living inductees at the ceremony, which took place in North Carolina.

LPGA legend Beverly Hanson, former British Open champion and golf course architect Tom Weiskopf and former US Open champion Johnny Farrell were inducted posthumously.

“Emotionally it brings me deep sense of satisfaction and validation to be inducted into the hall of fame,” Harrington said in his acceptance speech.

“As a player you get inducted into the hall of fame based on your golf results. So yes, I won three majors, numerous events around the world, I played six Ryder Cups, and that’s what gets you in the hall of fame. But there is a story behind it. So what’s my story?

“Firstly I’m not sure whether I loved the game or the game loved me because it was truly great to me.

“I loved the fact it was never meant to be a fair game. It was always meant to be a test of skill and mental fortitude. I loved the rules; I loved the etiquette; I loved the competition. Probably ultimately, I loved the meritocracy of it, that you’re out there on your own, no one else decides your fate, and it’s up to you to get it done.”

The Dubliner also took the opportunity to pay tribute to his long-time caddie Ronan Flood, adding: “People often ask if caddies really make a difference, and categorically I can say Ronan won me the 2007 Open Championship.

“On the 72nd hole, after I hit my second hole in the water, it was the first and only time I’ve ever been on the golf course where I felt embarrassed, where I wanted to give up. I really thought I’d thrown away the Open.

“However Ronan stuck to his guns and started into the cliches: ‘It’s not over yet’, ‘one shot at a time’, and so on.

“I think he took the four iron off me pretty quickly because I’m not sure I wouldn’t have had a swing at him with it!

“But we kept walking, he kept doing his job, and he got in my head. As I walked up to take my penalty drop and by the time I played my fifth shot, I hit it like a teenager. I was right back in the zone.

“I told this story for months afterwards about how my caddie didn’t give up on me and how he believed. It took about three months I think before he was in the room and heard me tell this story. He let me tell it, and he stood up at the end, acknowledged that while he’d said all those things, he also thought I’d lost the feckin’ Open!”

Victory for Jake Whelan (inset)  at the Connacht Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship in Portumna has pushed the Grange golfer up into a tie for fourth in this season’s race for the Bridgestone Men’s Order of Merit.

Picking up points in four of his six ranking appearances this year, Whelan’s win in Galway, along with a strong runner-up performance at the Ulster Men’s Amateur Stroke Play, have given the Dublin based golfer 437 points drawing him level with West of Ireland Amateur Open Champion Keith Egan (Carton House).

Malone golfer Matthew McClean remains top of the tree, 246 points clear of Paul Coughlan (Castleknock). Coughlan’s birdie on the final hole in Portumna handed the Munster Men’s champion a T5 finish, earning him 78 points and a move from fifth to second on the Order of Merit.

David Howard (Fota Island) is the biggest mover following his second place finish at the weekend. The Cork man’s length and accuracy from the tee on the Portumna parkland helped him on his way to 150 points and a leap from 22nd to ninth.

There is potential for change in the Women’s standings this coming weekend as Anna Abom (Edmonstown) takes her narrow six-point lead at the summit of the Bridgestone Women’s Order of Merit into the Flogas Irish Women’s Amateur Open Championship. One of the biggest events on the calendar gets underway in Woodbrook on Saturday 15th June, with closest rivals Aideen Walsh (Lahinch) and the in-form Annabel Wilson (Castlerock) aiming to knock Abom off top spot.

The Men will have over a month to prepare for their next opportunity to add points to their tally. Next on their schedule is the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship in Lahinch on Wednesday July 26th.

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