If anyone could live forever, Pádraig Harrington would certainly have a strong case, but when it comes to the Open Championship, even he knows Father Time is closing in.
Earlier in the week Harrington joked that he doesn’t do each way bets when asked if he would be happy with a top-10 in Hoylake after making the cut on the number but he wouldn’t be a bad shout when it comes to living into his hundreds.
Still, at 51 years of age, set to be 52 when the Claret Jug rolls into Troon next year, the Dubliner is starting to hear the clock ticking on his winner’s exemption which is set to expire when he turns 60.
While the three-time major champion has another nine years to claim a hat trick of Claret Jugs he was resigned to the fact that Sunday’s final round might have been his last hurrah at Royal Liverpool.
“I was walking around here and saying, am I going to keep this yardage book? No, I don’t think I’ll be back to another Open here. Eight years? Maybe. Seven years, I’ll be 60.”
Once he turns 60, Harrington’s Open exemption will have expired having won in 2007 and 2008. A third Open win before that wouldn’t extend his exemption meaning he would have to play in Open Championship Qualifying from then on.
“A bit disappointing to go and win it and only get seven years, wouldn’t it? If a 20-year old gets 40 years, and I go win it and I get seven, it would be terribly disappointing.”
As for this week’s Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, Harrington would love to go one better than his runner-up finish to Darren Clarke twelve months ago but an ankle injury has added some doubt to his fitness in the midst of a busy stretch of golf.
“I’d love to go down there and win it. I’ll wait and see what the golf course is like and the conditions for the week. It’s a long time since I’ve played it, so we’ll see.
“But the main thing is getting my head in the game. As I said, I really, really messed up my ankle badly hitting shots and I kind of overdid it. Next couple of days I’ve got to get my body and mind ready for the tournament.
“It was a bit strained beforehand, but I just hit so many shots, I really have put it under a lot of — the tendons are stretched or strained. It doesn’t seem to affect — it affected me walking. I’m not quite sure what it does to me hitting the ball, but it does affect my walking a bit.”