Harrington hails "massive", "career changing" win

Harrington hails "massive", "career changing" win

Winning the Honda Classic has offered Pádraig Harrington a new lease of life on the PGA Tour at the age 43.

"You could definitely argue it is career changing," Harrington told RTE's Greg Allen. "The major wins were life changing but at this stage my career, this win is massive. 

"I won the Honda Classic in 2005 and it was my first PGA Tour win and a  big step up but it's hard to believe at any stage in my career that I needed a win as much as I needed this win."

Reliant on sponsor's invitations to fill out his schedule in the US having lost his full PGA Tour card last year, Harrington resisted the temptation to use a one-year career money winner's exemption this season and the gamble paid off.

He's now got a two year exemption on the PGA Tour that gives him until the end of 2017 to compete in the US.

"I was disappointed with my first four weeks," Harrington said of a run that brought three missed cuts and a share of 56th in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. "I was going over very positive after winning in Indonesia last year, thinking things were on the right track. And I really struggled again — a lot of mental errors and I was struggling to get to grips with it.

"I found something last week in Riviera and I was very keen coming in this week. I definitely had  bit of peace on the golf course — not all the time, about 50 percent — and got out of my own way. It resulted in a really nice performance on a good golf course for me this week. It's a really tough course and I had a lot of the tough shots really well this week."

Victory in the Honda Classic didn’t get Harrington into this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral, just an hour down the road in Miami

He had already accepted sponsors' invitations  for each of the next three events after it — the Valspar Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Valero Texas Open —  and he plans to honour them.

Harrington will try and enjoy the Honda Classic win for what it is, his sixth PGA Tour victory. But it was such a huge win that he admitted that he could not afford think what winning might mean at any stage of the day.

"You know, I'm playing on exemptions‑‑ not exemptions, invites.  I got an invite this week.  That changes everything for the three years.  I'm back at the Masters.  There's lots of things that this does, World Ranking points, but I never considered that all day.  I was very much in the moment all day, which is good.

"There's no doubt, the big advantage for me this week if I'm going to look to anything is the fact that we were called off after seven holes yesterday.  Things were not going well for me.  And I knew coming back out today, that I was the challenger, and for other guys were leading, it's a tough golf course to lead on. "

Harrington putted like the Harrington of old coming down the stretch, gaining confidence from a purely struck six foot par putt at the ninth before draining those crucial five putts for birdie on the back nine.

"I got up this morning and as I said, I was talking to [my wife] Caroline and she just said to me was I was heading out, she said, 'Remember, if you had a putt, you wouldn't ask anybody else to hit it for you.'  And to be honest, I wouldn't ask anybody else to, maybe I would for a drive or two (laughter) but for a putt I wouldn't."