Harrington pays tribute to Irish legends following confirmation of Hall of Fame induction

Mark McGowan

Padraig Harrington (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Padraig Harrington will become the third Irishman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in June of this year, following in the footsteps of Joe Carr who was posthumously inducted in 2007 and Christy O’Connor Snr. who was honoured in 2009.

Not since Fred Daly’s Open Championship win in 1947 had an Irish player captured one of golf’s major titles, but Harrington ended the famine at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie and became the first European player since James Braid more than 100 years earlier to successfully defend the title when he won at Birkdale the following year.

He added the PGA Championship to his resume a month later, crowning an incredible 13-month period, rivalled in major success terms only by Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka in the modern era.

21 worldwide wins, the PGA Tour player of the year in 2008, a two-time European Player of the Year, a European Tour Order of Merit Winner, three-time Walker Cup member and six-time Ryder Cup player, the World Hall of Fame Induction is a recognition not only of Harrington’s achievements on the course, but as a global ambassador for the game off it.

“It’s very humbling,” Harrington said of his inclusion into the most exclusive of clubs, “I’m very humbled to be included with the people who’ve gone before me. A lot of the people in the Hall of Fame, I would’ve put up on a pedestal and now I’m there included with them. It takes a little to get my head around, but I have to understand that, believe that, be part of that.

“Some of them I would’ve competed against and it took a while to get used to that on the golf course, but now that I’m in the Hall of Fame, there’s many that I would’ve put up on a pedestal that I’ve never competed against. You’re looking at [Lee] Trevino or [Sam] Snead or [Ben] Hogan, you know, [Jack] Nicklaus, and now I’m in the Hall of Fame with these and it’s phenomenal.”

“I think this pulls it all together,” Harrington said when asked where the honour ranked in his own list of accomplishments.

“I think each achievement came along at a time that was a new level for me, you know, winning a Walker Cup, then getting a Tour card, then winning a tournament, making a Ryder Cup, then setting my sights on winning a major, then setting my sights on a number of majors. And I think when you win one major, then you start thinking ‘Hang on, where do I stand in the game of golf?’ and certainly the Hall of Fame comes looming at that stage. Can I make it into the Hall of Fame? Have I had a good enough career for the Hall of Fame?

“When you’re out there on the golf course, it’s a measure of your success and yes, what I’ve done on the golf course is really nice but this pulls it together. And yeah, you’ve done well.”

And in true Harrington fashion, he paid fitting tribute to those two Irish players inducted before him: “In Ireland, they were the two biggest names in golf growing up,” he said, “and luckily I spent time with both of them. Spent a good bit of time learning from Christy Sr. Would have played the Links Golf Society quite a bit with him. Didn’t spend as much time learning from Joe, and I should have. I didn’t really know enough about Joe, and sometimes we miss out — maybe I was too young to ask the questions.

“But certainly to be included with them, they are the greats of Irish golf, and I suppose I haven’t really thought about this, but as a kid, I looked up to them so much, I put them so much up there on a pedestal, in some ways now I’m there, as well. I don’t quite understand that, but as a kid, I certainly can remember going out to Royal Dublin and seeing Christy’s 10 golf bags, and I remember being around Joe quite a bit at Mount Juliet where I was attached for a while.”

A proud Irishman, Harrington believes that high achievement is part of our DNA and feels that it should come as little surprise that Ireland is so strongly represented in what is the most elite of golfing circles.

“I think we punch above our weight in everything in Ireland,” he said earnestly.  “When you travel the world, there’s Irish people at the top of — like Irish-born people at the top of businesses all around the world and people of Irish heritage all the way through business and politics, all around the world. We’re pretty good at not knowing — how to put this nicely? Not feeling like we have any limits.

“Certainly I think that’s the greatest thing about my own personality that’s helped me in my career. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t do it.

“Now, what I mean by that is I didn’t think there was a rule that says an Irish player can’t go and win a major. I never looked at it like just because somebody else hadn’t done it before me, I never felt that there was anything stopping me, that I could go out and do it.

“In some ways you could say I played with blinkers. I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t think too much about what other people hadn’t done. I just purely, and I think Irish have a good outlook like that, that we get on and do it rather than thinking about why we can’t do it or why we’re not allowed to do it. That’s definitely it, why we’re not allowed to do it; that’s definitely not in the Irish language. If somebody says we’re not allowed to do it, we’re more likely to go do and do it.

“I think Irish people, when it comes to what we’ve done and our influence on the world, it’s far greater than the size of our country for sure.

“As a golfer, as a person, I don’t know, maybe it was just the way I was brought up in my family, but I never thought there was anything that could stop me or hold me back.

“That doesn’t mean I thought I could do it, I just didn’t question that — there was no reason why I couldn’t do it. There was no rule to say I couldn’t do it. I certainly didn’t overthink it in that sense, just because nobody had won majors. I didn’t think that was any reason why I couldn’t win them. We’re pretty good that way, I think, in Ireland, that we certainly punch above our weight.”

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One response to “Harrington pays tribute to Irish legends following confirmation of Hall of Fame induction”

  1. Timothy Peter Cannon avatar
    Timothy Peter Cannon

    Very well deserved ,a top man and a very good golfer .

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