He might have been watching the action five miles from the roars at Amen Corner but Padraig Harrington was caught up in the emotion of the Masters like any other golf fan.
“It was very entertaining to watch. I enjoyed it,” Harrington said. “I really didn’t know who would win. I thought KJ Choi had a great chance too, as did Lee Westwood. Things weren’t looking great for Phil after 10 and 11, but once he birdied 12 it was a different story. He played the golf and he deserved to win.”
Harrington is close to both Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood and said he was pulling for both, adding that Mickelson’s incredible final round play was great for the game.
“Phil was excited. You could see it in his face,” he said, “And he played such exciting golf. I think it was a good week for golf with Tiger coming back and MIckelson winning. There were plenty of fireworks and high viewing figures for TV. Nobody is complaining that 16 under par won the tournament.”
Mickelson has now moved into a different major class to Harrington. With Tiger Woods on 14 majors, the Dubliner was in an elite chasing group of active players alongside fellow three-time major winners Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.
“I think it’s good for golf and shows that Phil can move on from here,” Harrington said. “He’s got four majors now and he’s getting up there into the high single digits.
“He’s in a new club and it’s something [for me] to chase. But it is not going to motivate me any more. I am trying hard enough to win majors as it is and I don’t need to try any harder.”
As for Mickelson’s wonder shot to the 13th, Harrington said: “It was an impressive shot, sitting on pine needles. Was it a six iron? Gee, he hits his irons a long way.”
The week was dominated early on by Tiger’s return to the game but Harrington reckons the American simply ran out of steam after an exhausting and stressful week.
Level with Mickelson on six under through 36 holes, the world NO 1 was five under at the weekend compared to 10 under for his arch rival.
“It looks like the stress and the emotions finally caught up with Tiger,” Harrington said. “There is always more asked on the weekend in a major.
“It is a longer week than most and while there is a certain stress and pressure on a Thursday and Friday, it is different on the weekend. You have got to be mentally very strong and fresh to go for all four days.
“Mind you, he wasn’t that far away in the end. He broke par every day and considering the way he played on Saturday and Sunday, it was very impressive score. You want to be strong on Thursday but you really want to be strong on Sunday afternoon. It might have shown up at the weekend that Tiger’s preparation wasn’t ideal.”
As for Westwood, Harrington believes the Englishman will draw confidence from Sunday and go on to break his major championship duck after finishing third, third and second in his last three starts.
He said: “He’s been playing to form in the majors for close to two years now and I think he’ll keep performing. If he keeps putting himself in that position, he will win majors. There is no doubt about it. He has got a game for major golf and he came close on Sunday. If he sits back and looks at that it will probably make him even more relaxed the next time.
“He hit a lot of great shots and you have got to think it is all there in front of him. He didn’t really do much wrong in the final round. He hit a few bad drives but his driving is the strongest part of his game so that is the thing that will worry him the least.”
While Harrington dropped out of the world’s top 10, falling one place to 11th, and Rory McIlroy slipped from 11th to 12th, the Dubliner does not believe that his Ulster rival should be putting too much pressure on himself to win majors just yet.
“I am sure he is, but he shouldn’t be,” Harrington said. “He’s got another 20 years and more to play majors. He shouldn’t be too worried about things at the moment.”