Padraig Harrington may not be the oldest in this week’s Honda Classic field but he is the oldest PGA Tour winner teeing-up this week at PGA National.
Harrington also boasts being the only two-time Honda Classic winner over the host Champion course and will be keen to make that a triple victory treat in the now $8m event starting Thursday at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.
The 50-year-old Dubliner captured both his Honda Classic titles going extra holes, first in 2005 when he overcame 1999 winner Vijay Singh and Joe Ogilvie, and then in 2015 when the event went into an extra day and Harrington emerged the winner after a two-hole play-off with American Daniel Berger, in what was just the 21-year-old Berger’s 12th PGA Tour start.
Bizarrely, Harrington went into the 2015 Honda Classic ranked 217th in the World Rankings while a week earlier American James Hahn was ranked 217th when capturing the Northern Trust Open (Now Genesis Invitational).
This week Harrington will tee-up ranked 140th in the world and no chance of a Niemann/Harrington same world ranking victory double as Chilean Joaquin Niemann was ranked 32nd teeing-up last week at Riviera.
Seven years ago, Harrington snatched five birdies over his closing nine holes, and none better than draining a 15-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole to tie Berger and send the tournament into a play-off. It had also been seven years (Or 2,395 days according to the Golf Channel) since Harrington had last won on the PGA Tour in capturing the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, the clubhouse tragically near-totally gutted in a recent fire.
Three years earlier in 2005, Harrington captured the Honda Classic as a maiden PGA Tour win, something that Berger was looking to do in 2015. As well, Berger was seeking to become the youngest Honda Classic champion in the then 44-year history of the event after a then 22-year-old Rory McIlroy went to No. 1 in the world in winning the Honda in 2012.
The Harrington/Berger play-off ended at the second extra hole, the par-3 17th when Berger found the water guarding the green, and took a horror double-bogey ‘5’ as his shell-shocked mother looked on.
Harrington saved his best shot all week for the closing hole at The Bear Trap, landing his 9-iron to some four-feet, and while just missing the birdie, it was the easiest of victory pars. The win ensured Harrington, then aged 43, to be the oldest Honda Classic winner.
In his victory speech, Harrington singled out his December 2014 Asian Tour win at the Indonesian Open, the 28th of now 31 worldwide wins in his career, as key to getting back into a winning disposition.
Your writer and, a great friend and Irish Independent colleague, Karl McGinty were present that week at the event, and clearly chuffed Harrington had won as is guaranteed a superb storyline for the Irish papers. And Harrington was in the best of talking form in his victory press conference, so much so that when the transcript arrived it was close to 4,500 words.
If there was another key or keys to his win, Harrington mentioned them in the penultimate paragraph of the transcript.
“I spent about an hour with Bob Rotella last night on the putting green hitting putts,” said Harrington. “I went to an old drill and putted away. Certainly gave me some confidence.
“I then went out to dinner with Shane Lowry and Steven Grant (In fact, Berger’s English-born caddy), probably stayed later than I should have. After a long day, I think I was still in the Thai Kabuki, certainly after ten o’clock, after a long day, 10:15, 10:30.
“We were having good fun, and I have to say that whole time, I don’t think‑‑ we talked a lot of golf because Stephen Grant talks a lot of golf but I never discussed anything to do with my golf. I never thought anything about my golf, so I really did get away from it for a few hours.
“I got up this morning and, I was talking to Caroline (wife) and she just said to me as I was heading out, she said, “Remember, if you had a putt, you wouldn’t ask anybody else to hit it for you.” And to be honest, I wouldn’t ask anybody else to, maybe I would for a drive or two (laughter) but for a putt, I wouldn’t.”
Now Harrington heads into this week’s 2022 Honda Classic looking to still be the oldest champion and surpass something that tournament host, Jack Nicklaus could not manage and win the event three times.
By the way, the oldest player this week is the bespectacled Alan Morin. The 51-year-old earned a Honda Classic tee time in being named 2021 South Florida Golf ‘Player of the Year’.
- Full tee-times HERE