Chasing Tiger | Padraig Harrington

By Aaron M Smith

I am not sure if anyone caught any golf over the weekend, but the 2010 Honda Classic gave us a tasty appetizer in preparation for the main course – the majestic Amen Corner. The name of this nemesis? The “Bear Trap”.  The 15th ,16th and 17th holes of the PGA National Resort & Spa course are named just that. The course is designed by Jack Nicklaus and the “Bear Trap” absolutely wrecked havoc on the PGA golfers all weekend.  In fact watching Vijay Singh plunk his tee shot on the 17th  hole – a 166 yard, Par 3 –  in the water almost made me feel better about my golf game…. almost. Still, cheers to Camilo Villegas for managing to steer clear of trouble all weekend and capturing his second tournament victory on the PGA tour.

While Camilo’s name will begin to come up in conversations regarding the top players on the PGA tour – it is time to continue our look at golfers who may replace Tiger Woods as the best player in the world. Up this week – Padraig Harrington. Harrington joined the tour in 1995 and has not looked back. Having won back to back British Open Tournaments in 2007 and 2008, Padraig broke through on  U.S. soil in 2008 – capturing the PGA Championship. In fact Harrington became only the second PGA golfer in the last 10 years to win back to back major tournaments. The other? You got it – Tiger Woods.

But was this enough for Padraig Harrington? Apparently the answer is no as Harrington decided to make major swing changes right before  the 2009 season. Why did he change? Well, Harrington felt that if he was going to elevate his game to be one of the best in the world, he needed to make changes.  The Irishman felt his game lacked consistency and in order for him to compete over the long haul – he needed to take the step. The result was a difficult 2009 season for Harrington.   Frustrating tournaments and struggles throughout 2009 tested every inch of Harrington’s resolve.

But what makes Harrington so special? He currently ranks right at the PGA average in Driving Distance (275 yards) and Scoring (70.6). The major tell? Harrington’s ability to get out of trouble. Currently Harrington’s sand saves % is 8th in the world at 71.64% .  Compare it to the Tour average of 59.60% and it speaks volumes of Harrington’s ability to get out of trouble and still score high.

So what does 2010 bring? Well if you ask Padraig Harrington, he would probably ask for a major or two. But if his swing continues to improve,  he could find himself replacing Tiger Woods  as the top player on the PGA Tour.

7 Responses to "Chasing Tiger | Padraig Harrington"

  1. Dan   March 12, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Looks like Tiger might be coming back sooner than expected… Thoughts???

  2. crossword pete   March 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve said it before on the Pine. I only follow Tiger, not golf. If he returns, I will follow it again, if he doesn’t his successor as “best in the world” doesn’t matter one bit to me. I wonder how representative I am of the general public?

  3. Wally   March 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Tiger shmiger … who cares???? I’ll enthusiastically watch much of the Masters whether or not Woods plays. I just like the Majors and golf traditions … period. There’s a lot of other talented guys out there. Tiger’s just one of them now.

    I’m sick of all this crap … now we have Ruthlessberger and another sex scandal.

  4. crossword pete   March 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Well at least I know I don’t represent Wally’s feelings!

  5. Wally   March 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Pete —
    I’ve been a golfer since 7th grade, so I just love the game and appreciate the talents of those that can compete at that level. The final rounds of the Masters and US Open … heck, all the majors … usually have me glued to the TV, regardless of who’s in contention. And I’ve always held a “subliminal grudge” against Tiger, cuz the Golden Bear is “my guy” and I don’t want to see his records broken … which i’m sure Tiger will do eventually anyway. It’s kinda like my unreasonable grudge against Tom Brady cuz of the “tuck rule” scandal that robbed the Raiders 🙂

  6. Smitty   March 13, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Dan – I think it is great that Tiger Woods will be back sooner rather than later. He makes the PGA that much better and from the PGA’s standpoint – it certainly brings a lot of borderline fans back the game. Right Pete? 🙂

    However I am with Wally… When Tiger Woods comes back – it better not be the Masters. I absolutely love the Masters tournament and consider Augusta National to be Holy Ground. I look forward to watching the tournament every year with or without Tiger Woods. I am starting my annual article already. But I don’t want his first time back to be the Masters. Don’t turn the Masters into a circus event. And let’s face the facts – his first tournament back is going to be just that. He knows, otherwise he wouldn’t have hired Ari Fleischer (sp?) to help craft his return.

    I watch golf every weekend.. Once the weather starts to warm up – a little less. As Wally said, the talent level on the tour is incredible. I will watch as much of the Masters as I possibly can. Same for the British and U.S. Open

    Tiger Wood’s return is great for golf.. and depending on how he does it – maybe for the Masters as well.

  7. Smitty   March 13, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Wally.. Glad to see I am not the only one sick of Big Ben’s shenanigans.

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