Harrington dismisses merit of fifth at Augusta

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington dismissed his fifth place finish behind Masters champion Trevor Immelman and immediately set his sights on the US Open.

The Dubliner, 36, came up six shots short after a brave final round charge at Augusta National.


And while he equalled his best ever Masters finish with a share of fifth place alongside Phil Mickelson and Steve Flesch, he confessed that only victory will satisfy his Major ambitions these days.

Sounding more like Tiger Woods since his Open victory last summer, Harrington showed his Major ambition when looked at a nine-shot deficit entering the final round and declared: “I have no interest in finishing anywhere else in the field but first.”

A level par 72 proved to be six shots too many on a blustery final day but he walked away doubly convinced that he has the game and the guts to win golf's top prizes.

Asked if he was happy to finish as the leading European, Harrington chuckled: “I couldn't care less. There is no tournament within a tournament. I’ll tell what I knew I would be and that is the low Irishman!

"I'm not satisfied with the high finish, no. It won't go down on my CV - we're all about trying to get out there and win.”

Happy to move up to fourth in the Ryder Cup rankings, Harrington confessed that his normally impeccable short game let him down around the most punishing greens in golf.

But he still walked away from Augusta believing that he has all the skills required to add to his Open Championship crown.

He said: "If anything let me down, it was my putting the first day. And I could have been better with my chipping.

“But I walk away from this week not doubting my swing or anything like that.

“My basic attitude is if I bring my game to each major, I will get into contention in a number of them, and then if you're in contention in a number of them you will win some of them.

“I felt good about my game. I was well in the zone and that's what you want when it comes to major championships.

“You want to be able to get yourself into the right mental state because if you do that you know good things will happen.

"I have to look back and reflect on a couple of places where shots went adrift. What finishing like this says to me is that I'm doing the right things.

"I feel my preparation was good. I set my stall out that I was building up for The Masters and now it's the US Open for the next couple of months.

"I didn't get the right side of the draw at the start of the week and I'm walking away saying that there's nothing in my golf swing that needs to be worked on.

"And there's nothing in my ability to play the game that needs to be worked on. It's all there - it's just a question of getting the best out of me in these weeks.

“The result isn't everything. I realise my short game wasn't up to scratch but I don't need to dig it out of the dirt.

“I need to concentrate on my strengths and my ability and the fact I am good down the stretch. Not good because I have won a Major but I can see that it's an extreme test out there but I've got the ability to handle it.”

Harrington made an early move up the leaderboard with birdies at the second and third but stalled with five straight pars before bogeys at the ninth, 11th and 14th all but killed his hopes.

He explained: “I was thinking if I got to seven-under I may have a chance but I knew it would depend on a lot of other people.

"It is proved because only one guy got past seven-under and that's what I was thinking.

"I certainly went after the shots and I hit really good putts on the fifth, sixth and seventh but then after the easiest drive on the golf course at the ninth, I just hit a bad drive into the trees right and played a poor chip.

“On the 11th I played a poor chip, and on the 14th I hit a poor sand wedge in, so there's five shots and you can't give that away on a windy day.”

The Dubliner will stay on at Augusta today to play a friendly game with one of his brothers before heading to Loch Lomond on Saturday for Colin Montgomerie’s A-list wedding to millionairess Gaynor Knowles.

Harrington and his wife Caroline will rub shoulders with guests such as High Grant and Prince Andrew with Robbie Williams booked for the entertainment.

The Irish star has three weeks off before he sandwiches his defence of the Irish Open at Adare Manor between The Players Championship at Sawgrass and the BMW PGA at Wentworth.

As for Immelman, Harrington hopes the likeable South African will grow in confidence after finally living up to his potential.

Trevor Immelman

Harrington said: "He has put the work in. He's a good player and he's a nice guy. Trevor has been burdened with his ability and winning a Major might allow him to stand back and acknowledge how good he is so that he can move on from here. So it might improve his self-confidence.

"We are all different and there is no question that it does put extra pressure and expectations on you and it's very easy to get into a notion that you have to play perfect golf all the time.

"So there is no question there is a big downside to playing as a Major champion and you have to be very, very disciplined.

"And from a personal point of view it's important that you don't get yourself caught up in trying to prove yourself every time.

"That's where a manager will be important and Trevor will now have to learn to say 'no' more than he's had to do before as there will be a huge amount of requests of him now as a Major winner.”