By Brian Keogh
Tiger Woods took just minutes to send Padraig Harrington a feel-good text message after his Open win at Royal Birkdale.
What the absent world No 1 told Ireland’s double Major champion will remain a closely-guarded secret. But it could easily have been: I told you so.
After watching Harrington join the Major club last year, Woods predicted that the Dubliner now had the self-belief to win more Majors
And he wasn’t slow to get in touch on Sunday after Harrington proved him right by storming to a Tiger-like four shot win.
An insider in the Harrington camp said: “Padraig got a text for Tiger within 20 minutes of winning. He’s not saying what it said and I wouldn’t ask him. He was joking there saying it’s got a confidentiality clause.”
Confined to home after knee surgery, Woods was not surprised to see Harrington won his first Major at Carnoustie last year and predicted future success for the Dubliner once he had proved to himself that he could win a big one.
Woods said: “Until you’ve actually proven it to yourself that you can get it done, it’s totally different until you do.
“And I think the more times you do it, the more you say to yourself, well I’ve done this before.
“Padraig is mentally very strong. But you also have to remember the things that he’s had to do to get better and how hard he’s worked, changing his swing with Bob. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen.”
Harrington revealed that he had “over 100 text messages” on his mobile when he finished on Sunday, including “a few funny ones.”
He beamed: “I ain’t telling you those ones. I haven’t got through them all. There’s none that stand out at the moment. Well.....there is one. But I’m not telling you about it.”
Out for the year with a knee injury, 14-time Major winner Woods watched the action from his sofa as Harrington scorched to victory with a Tigeresque back nine performance.
And he must have been impressed with Harrington’s superb show as the Irish ace came from one behind at the turn to win by four from Ian Poulter - the man he calls “No2”.
Woods is clearly becoming a text-addict, regularly tapping out messages to pals Mark O’Meara, Annika Sorenstam and Darren Clarke.
He even ribbed Clarke when the rotund Ulsterman beat him in the World Matchplay eight years ago.
Woods pinned a note to Clarke’s locker that read: “Congratulations. Be proud. It won’t happen again. P.S. You're still a fat f***.”
Despite Woods’ absence from the Open, the BBC were happy with TV viewing figures with 4.7 million tuning in at 7 pm to watch Harrington lift the Claret Jug again.
When Woods won back-to-back Opens at Hoylake in 2006, 4.8 million watched the action.
Last year, around 5.7 million saw Harrington beat Sergio Garcia play-off but ratings for this year’s Open were down in the US due to the Tiger-effect.