For a chosen few – yes, Tiger Woods, we're talking about you – greatness is a birthright, the incremental path toward a pre-ordained destiny.
Padraig Harrington, who this week seeks to join the ranks of immortality by winning a third straight major, has created his own greatness.
The affable Irishman approaches the Masters secure in the knowledge that within him lies the mind-set of a winner and a big-time game that blends the artistic, the scientific and the athletic.
Harrington has turned mental fortitude into an art form, one which has repeatedly shone through when it has mattered the most. The 37-year-old has a level of control over his mind that verges on spooky, an ability to force himself to repeat the same thought up to 100 times, or however many is necessary to detach from all outside distractions under pressure.
For all three of his career major victories, that strength has been paramount. In the first, at the British Open in 2007, Harrington survived a thrilling playoff with Sergio Garcia on a remarkable afternoon at Carnoustie.
Twelve months later, he retained the claret jug at Royal Birkdale, as gutsy conditions blew away the hopes of his rivals on Sunday.
Three weeks later, Harrington cut down Garcia over the back nine at Oakland Hills to win the PGA Championship by two shots, after starting the final day three behind.
"You can see the extra element to the mental side of his game since he won the first major," said six-time major winner Nick Faldo. "Coming down the stretch at the  Open and the PGA he had that total belief and it was spectacular to see."
Spectacular indeed. Harrington putted like a magician over the closing holes of the PGA, to tame the course known as the Monster and break Garcia's heart again.
For that, he owes much thanks to science, in particular his putting guru, Dr. Paul Hurrion.
Hurrion operates a sports science and physics laboratory in England, where he and Harrington have spent countless hours perfecting his putting stroke since they teamed up in 2002.
High-speed cameras pick up every detail of the stroke, and have helped to develop a technique that ensures the ball comes squarely off the face of the putter blade virtually every time.
Harrington and Hurrion have been known to work together until midnight and the doctor was summoned to the Harrington base in Ireland for specific work ahead of Augusta.
"It is not just the nature of the work we do," Hurrion said. "It is the way he goes about it. He wants it to be perfect. He gets it – he knows how the most fractional alteration can make all the difference in a tournament."
Harrington may be a meticulous and precise man by nature. He comfortably passed his accountancy examinations and was primed for a career in that number-crunching profession before it was clear that golf would offer a more rewarding and lucrative path.
He is a calm and understated character who doesn't chase the spotlight or necessarily embrace the trappings of his fame. So will things be different, harder, this time around, with a major trophy under each arm heading into the biggest one of them all?
Golf is utterly consumed right now by the return of its favorite son, with Woods' comeback from an injury-imposed eight-month layoff the only topic in town. Perhaps never before has the winner of the previous two majors attracted so little attention and Harrington likes that just fine.
"You have to be an individual and handle each situation the way that suits you best," Harrington said. "I know there is going to be a lot of people wanting to talk to me about what I did last year and to see what I can accomplish here.
"But there are also a lot of other players that the public is interested in, especially Tiger, of course."
Whichever group attracts the largest gallery, one place Harrington is certain to get noticed is in the minds of his competitors. No player capitalized upon Woods' absence more successfully and no man apart from the world No. 1 these days has a greater aura of golfing toughness.
"No one wants to see Padraig coming up behind them on the last day," said Harrington's close friend and Ryder Cup teammate Paul McGinley. "It doesn't matter if he is a few shots back. He can go on one of those runs where he makes everything and before you know it he is ahead."
It would be logical, especially with Woods back in the fray, to suggest that 2008 will go down as Harrington's "career year." Even the player himself admits that winning consecutive majors was "like a dream" and "hard to top."
However, veteran television commentator Peter Alliss insists we may not have seen Harrington's best.
"What he has achieved is a testament to an incredible work ethic," Alliss said. "Even after winning three majors out of the last six he still wants to strive as hard as ever.
I wouldn't be surprised if things keep getting better for him. He is such a competitor and he produces when it matters."
In a sport that can be isolationist and introspective, Harrington is a gamer who rises to the challenge of the big occasion.
"I know I love the idea of the back nine of a major on the Sunday," said Harrington, after his triumph in the PGA. "I love it so much that I'm actually a little disappointed that it is seven months to the next major."
Well, those seven months have now passed and this week Harrington gets another shot, this time on the manicured yet hellacious greens of golf's greatest setting.