But then Harrington inexplicably decided to monkey with his swing, Woods had to recover from a knee injury (the one that kept him out of the field for Harrington's 2008 wins) and later encountered a fire hydrant, and the rivalry-to-be was the rivalry that never was.
Indeed, while Woods did win after his 2009 return from a knee injury, Harrington didn't, going two long years without a victory anywhere, in anything.
That's over now, as Harrington captured the Iskandar Johor Open in Singapore over the weekend. He posted a 20-under to win, so he wasn't exactly battling the course, but he was still fighting through his cantankerous swing.
"I got a lot of breaks," he said afterward. "Things went my way all four days. There’s no doubt that it was my week to win. If you had followed me for the four days, I don’t think anyone would have questioned that my name was written on the trophy before the tournament started."
That kind of confidence is essential to a golfer, but even more so when you can hardly remember your last victory. For most of the last couple years, Harrington appeared well past his prime. And while this is just one event in a nearly forgotten corner of the schedule, feeling confident instead of confused on the course is a huge advantage.