Friday, 19 March 2010
The Masters - Round Three  (Getty Images)
The Masters - Round Three (Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington showed his class again in this year's Masters - not on the course as much as he hoped, but in the way he handled himself off it.

The dream of a 'Paddy Slam' was all but ended when he crashed to a quadruple bogey nine on the second hole of his third round.

But the one thing the Open and US PGA champion was never going to do was throw a paddy.

There was no storming away from Augusta National, no monosyllabic answers, no cats being kicked.

Minutes after signing for a 73, Harrington sat down to talk to reporters for as long as they wanted to fire questions at him, just as he had throughout the build up to the biggest week of his career.

At 37 it is unlikely the Irishman will ever have another chance of a third successful Major and then to go on to attempt a clean sweep.

All he can do, of course, is try for one in a row again in the US Open at Bethpage on Long Island, New York, in June.

"These things happen in the game, you can't do much about it," said Harrington, who went from seven behind to 11 back when the nine went on his card and managed to reduce that huge deficit by only one going into the final round.

"Obviously my chances went on the second. It wasn't to be and that's the nature of the game; my game any way.

"I don't really have a sense of disappointment. It's a 'so be it' sort of thing. I would not in any way suggest I have full control over my destiny.

"You can't demand you are going to beat all these guys every week. There are few in the game who have. I don't think that, I know that, I understand that. It doesn't always happen and I've never got caught up in the hype.

"I'll keep doing the same things, stay patient, build up to the US Open and try to get the game in shape.

"I would liked to have driven the ball better, but I'm really gutted with how I chipped. I'm really not happy about that, you can't afford to give shots away.

"I had three easy ones I made a dog's dinner of."

One came during his most calamitous hole, but the damage had been done by then.

Having missed the fairway left he hit a tree ten yards in front of him, rebounded into a bush, took a penalty drop, hit the same tree, went into a creek, played it out and was still not on the green for six.

Playing partner Lee Westwood commented: "Padraig probably just tried to squeeze out a bit too much on his second shot.

"That's not like him as he normally thinks his way around the course really well. It backfired on him."

Harrington did not consider it a big gamble and explained: "There was a root in front of the ball. I was not concerned about it, but then I backed out of the shot a bit and so it flew off the club further right than I intended."

Coming off the green with his nine - he had to sink a testing putt to avoid matching the highest score on the hole in Masters history - he insisted he had "no deflation at all."

Instead he was determined to extract all he could from the rest of the round and see where it left him.

The day before, of course, American Anthony Kim had a tournament record 11 birdies in a 65, but although Harrington grabbed five there were also two bogeys.

Ten strokes is the same deficit that Paul Lawrie made up on the final day to win the 1999 Open at Carnoustie.

But the big difference between that situation and Harrington's was that Lawrie was lying 14th after 54 holes. The Dubliner was 25th.

Leader by five at Carnoustie was, of course, Jean Van de Velde. He imploded with a 77, including a triple-bogey seven on the last hole.

Harrington had only to look at the calibre of the players ahead of him to know that not all of them - maybe none of them - were going to crack like that.


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