Padraig Harrington became golf’s $10 million man when he dismissed massive rival offers and signed a new deal with club sponsors Wilson.
Ireland’s triple Major champion doubled his money when he closed what is believed to be a three-year deal with the global sporting goods brand at Dublin Castle yesterday.
Determined not to break his magic winning formula by putting money ahead of performance, Harrington said: “Obviously, I’m thrilled to sign for Wilson again. I’ve been with them for 10 years and in that time they as a company have improved and my golf certainly has gone forward.
“I was in a very good negotiating position, having won three Majors. I am very happy, which is a good sign. There was competition and figures that were large as well but at the end of the day, a lot of other things come into consideration.
“There’s nothing like continuity and, obviously I’d like to continue the form I’ve been having over the last 10 years, not to mention the last 18 months.
“Things have progressed very nicely for me over those 10 years and I do believe that Wilson have been a very big part of that.”
After seven months of tough talks with Harrington’s manager Adrian Mitchell, Wilson boss Tim Clarke confessed that loyalty was the key to the Dubliner’s decision to put success on the golf course ahead of cash in the bank.
And while he failed to tie the Dubliner to a life-time deal, he was delighted to keep him in the same stable as NFL ace Tom Brady and tennis megastar Roger Federer.
Relieved not to lose golf’s hottest ticket after Tiger Woods, Clarke said: “We were certainly not the highest bidder. It came down to integrity and faith in the end.”
Negotiations began in March but become more complicated as Harrington upped the ante by retaining the Open and then adding the US PGA title to his Major haul in August.
Wilson faced stiff competition from brands like Bridgestone for Harrington’s signature but the Dubliner’s US PGA win at Oakland Hills made him a superstar in America and convinced Wilson’s parent company Amer Sports to give the deal the thumbs up.
Clarke said: “There was nobody who wanted to see Padraig walk out with another golf bag. I think we are here today because his thought process and belief in what we do for him was something I can’t put a dollar figure on, but has some value.
“I’ve had a chance to meet all of our athletes from all of our sports. I am humbled many times by the class in the way he handles everything.
“I don’t have children but if I had I would tell them ‘when you grow up, this is the type of man you should try to be’. He was raised properly and has not changed one bit from no Majors, to one Major to three Majors.”
Harrington must finish first or second in next week’s Volvo Masters to lift the Order of Merit for the second time and earn his first bonus under his new contract.
Looking fit and fresh, he confessed that he is physically “on the upswing” adding: “It is a mathematical possibility and I know that if I go and win at Valderrama, I will win the Order of Merit.”
As for the future of the Irish Open, Harrington revealed that the European Tour approached him and Darren Clarke about the possibility of promoting the event but turned down the chance.
Harrington said: “We were both too busy to give it 100 percent but we’d like to do it in the future. It is all about trying to find a global sponsor that is happy to come to Ireland.”