One of only 43 men to have won three majors, Harrington nailed down the final two majors of the 2008 season -- albeit without Woods in the field -- and appeared to be that most elusive of players, a legitimate challenger to Woods.
And then ... nothing.
That's not quite true; Harrington did actually keep playing. But he made the curious decision to retool his swing at least twice, and the results have been nothing short of professionally disastrous.
He hasn't won on either the PGA or European tours since his 2008 PGA Championship win, missing the cut in six of the 12 majors since then. He's notched only a single top 10, a tie for 10th at the 2009 PGA. Indeed, the only event he's won at all since then was the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, part of the Asian Tour.
Now, though, he's rolling, at least for a day. In the first round of Thursday's Transitions, Harrington shot a professional-best 61 to lead the field by three strokes. The highlight of his day was the putt you see above, a 75-footer for birdie on the 17th hole.
Can he sustain? Perhaps. Harrington is now taking discipline lessons from coach Dave Alred, and to hear him tell it, the methodology is already clicking.
"It's just about creating discipline when I'm out there," he said. "A good example of that is I can't walk on to the range and warm up by hitting a shot. I have to be warmed up and hit the first shot like it's a tournament shot. So everything is just about discipline and how you go about your practice."
Of course, Harrington is still able to keep his sense of humor. When asked what his low point was in the last few years, he simply laughed and replied, "To be honest, I'm a professional golfer. There isn't a low point in being a professional golfer. I mean, let's be realistic."
And, of course, there's the synergy of this being St. Patrick's Day weekend and all. "I would consider that a coincidence," Harrington said. "But it is nice that they named the day after me."
- Padraig Harrington
- Tiger Woods