By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington runs out of the living room when his relatives call round and sit down to watch the DVD of his Open Championship triumph.

He has about 45 versions of his finest hour but still cringes when it gets to the part when he wells up with tears in the post play-off interview with the BBC.

He claims he has yet to watch any of his DVDs from start to finish but what he really doesn't want to see is the moment he "died" on the 72nd hole by dumping two balls Carnoustie's infamous Barry Burn.

What happened next is now a part of golfing folklore with the Dubliner coming back to life to pitch and putt for a double bogey six that proved to be good enough to force a four-hole, sudden-death showdown with Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

Images of Harrington's son Paddy innocently kicking his practice balls away on the putting green before the play-off and his request to put ladybirds in the Claret Jug after his daddy's greatest win, will live long in the memory.

But Harrington will never, ever forget how the life drained out of him on that final hole of regulation play, when he "choked" completely playing his third shot and the snaking burn appeared to swallow his greatest chance of winning a Major title.

Recalling the worst moment of his sporting life, Harrington said: "When I hit the second ball in the water, I just died there.  I just felt embarrassed.  I'd just totally choked. 

"That was the way I felt about it.  I didn't mind the tee shot, you can hit a bad shot.  The second shot, I was gutted.  I felt I had thrown away the Open.

"Ronan, my caddie, did an incredible job dragging me back out of the hole and spurring me on.  He did a fantastic job since he also thought I'd just lost The Open, though he never let on. 

"He only told me about that afterwards. At the time, he did a tremendous job of bringing me back out and, as you can see from the pitch and the putt, I was back in the zone.

"But when I looked up at the leaderboard, again, it hit home and I felt like I'd just thrown it away. Yet when I turned around and my son came running onto the green, he looked at me like I had won The Open. I suppose that's what he felt. I was a champion in his eyes and I walked off the green feeling like I felt like one too.

"If you look closely at when I turned around and looked at the leaderboard, you'll see my whole body sink.  Yet when I walk off the green, I wave to the crowd like I had just won. 

"There are a number of things that happen when you win any tournament, no more so than at a major, things that make a pivotal difference to the week and yet can't always be replicated.

"Obviously I did things right and got the right breaks, things like that.  That's always part of golf but I was able to make the most of the situation, which was purely through experience.

"You have to be patient and wait for that to happen. You might hit a bad chip that hits the flag and goes in. You might hit a bad shot and instead of finishing in a bush it finishes beside the bush. You don't really realise how significant these things are at the time. 

"That's why you have to hang around, to get in position and stay patient. A lot of guys said after Torrey Pines that if it had been a regular week on tour, the scoring would've been a lot better – that it was the US Open that intimidated people, not the golf course.  And that's the way it is with the majors.

"Geoff Ogilvy says he wishes he could play US Opens every time he's playing well because he feels nobody's going to run away
from him. He can be more patient, and I agree with that."

When he rolls into Southport tomorrow , Harrington will head down to Royal Birkdale to begin his final preparations for his title defence as if Carnoustie had never happened.

Having played alongside 2007 US Open champion Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds of his failed defence at Torrey Pines last month, he knows he must put what happened last year at the back of his mind and start with "a clean slate".

Yet the first irishman to win a Major title for 60 years will be drawing on every second of his greatest victory, revealing that he would even wear "the same socks" if only he could remember which ones they were.

His mental coach Dr Bob Rotella will be his house guest again this year, making sure that his star pupil is in the best possible frame of mind.

Yet as Harrington explains, whatever happens this year, nothing can take the Claret Jug away from him.

He said: "It doesn't matter what I do in my defence, I will remain the 2007 Open Champion. Even if you turn up and happen not to play well, they don't take it off you.

"So there's no point with trying to burden myself with expectations next week. My performance this year at The Open has no reflection on what I did in 2007. It doesn't make any difference in that regard."

Harrington regards patience as one of the keys to his 2007 triumph and points to the way he dismissed a double bogey six at the 36th hole as a perfect example of the mental discipline required to win a Major.

With one Major on his mantelpiece, he is now more determined than ever to win another one, explaining: "I'm more hungry to win majors and more hungry to win another Open Championship.  If you were to tell me I'd win one more Major, I'd pick one of the other three. Tell me I'm going to win three more and I'd pick all the other three.

"Yet the feeling of winning a major is so special, you'd like to have it every week you play rather than four times a year. So I want to win The Open more than ever before, while my will to win any of the other three has also gone up another notch as well."

Many still believe that his double bogey finish on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie last year took some of the gloss off what could have gone down as one of the greatest final rounds ever player in a Major.

Needing a par four for a 65, he had to settle for a 67. But he is happy with how it all turned out and still coldly analytical of exactly what happened on that final hole, when the ghost of Jean van de Velde at the same venue in 1999 haunted every step of his route to the 18th green.

Putting it all in context, Harrington said: "I got the trophy and I'll never judge how. My caddie told me afterwards, that was the best he'd ever seen me play and I said 'really', because everything felt was so comfortable. 

"Obviously, that's a sign I was in the zone that day. It's a lot harder sometimes shooting 72 when it's a tough day and you have to work through it.

"One of startling things about that whole round is I didn't really hole any putts.  I had a lot of chances and good putts that didn't drop.  It's hard to believe I could've been six-under coming down the last.  

"It was a very comfortable round. Usually it doesn't go like that.  People tell me the tee shot on 18 was really unlucky not to cross the bridge. I'd like to point out I was the luckiest golfer in hindsight that the ball didn't bounce across the bridge. 

"If it had and I'd hit it up to the green, made five and won The Open, people would have said it was lucky. They'd have figured out some acronym like 'The Bounce Across the Bridge Champion'.

"By going in the water, taking a six and having to win a playoff, I feel I proved I was the champion on the day. If there is an edge to it, I would look at it like that. I gave up The Open on 18; I got a second chance, and took that chance.

"As we all know in this game of golf, when you're presented with an opportunity, you take it. He who makes the most of a good break here or there is going to be the champion.

"So it doesn't take any sheen off at all.  As you guys will always hear me say, there's a big difference between the satisfaction we take from playing golf and the stock you guys place in results. Yet that's a result; I enjoyed it.

"Separately to that, I do look back and ask 'why did I hit a bad shot on 18?' I want to understand what happened so that the next time I'm in that situation, I learn from it. There's a little bit of that. No doubt, having looked at the situation, I should be better equipped as a player should it ever arise again.  

"Who knows?  It would have taken a serious amount of confidence and self-belief to have laid up my third shot.  You know, in hindsight, that probably was the right shot under the circumstances but it would have been an incredible play.

"It would have taken nerves of absolute steel to say I'm laying up because you'd get absolutely hammered if it didn't work out right. 

"Look how much the guys who have laid up at The Masters have been criticised … then there's David Toms, who laid-up at the PGA and won, so he was praised to high-heaven for playing to his strength. 

"So there's a couple of situations that I look at to learn from but none of it takes away from the result. I'm Open Champion. You know, I've played great in tournaments and not won, so in this situation, I don't mind a little blip."

One of the key moments of last year's Open came when Harrington sat in the recorder's hut with the sound turned down on the TV monitor, watching Garcia putt from 10 feet for the title.

It has been alleged that the pair are not exactly the best of friends, but Harrington says he avoided to the temptation to wish bad luck on his Spanish opponent as he stood over that 72nd hole putt to win the Open.

He said: "I was sitting in the recorder's hut watching his putt, telling myself I was going to win The Open.  Not once did I sit there going, I need him to miss, I want him to miss, miss – none of those negative thoughts got in my head.  

All I did was sit there saying, 'I'm going to win The Open.'  Now inevitably, if I was going to win The Open, that putt had to miss, but I didn't allow myself to get into a negative situation:  there was no 'Miss, miss, miss.'  I just sat there and said, 'I'm going to win The Open.'

"I'm sitting there, my caddie's there and the two recorders are there, and I'm just ringing it through my head:  'I'm going to win this, I'm going to win The Open, it's my Open to win.' That's all I was doing in my own head.

"There's no question I walked on to the first tee in the playoff convinced I was going to win.  I'd kept myself so positive, bar when I was spiraling downhill after hitting it into the water; bar when I holed the the putt at 18 and looked at the scoreboard and started to really get down on myself.  

"Besides those two moments, once I'd walked off the green with my son, I knew I was going to win The Open." 

Garcia is regarded by many as he man most likely to take advantage of Tiger Woods's absence through injury next week.

After hitting his 72nd hole drive in the water at Carnoustie, Harrington approached the spot where his ball finished in the hazard and saw a grinning Sergio Garcia coming towards him.

Yet the Dubliner refuses to read too much into the Spaniard's knowing smile, preferring to believe that there was less to it than many imagine.

He said: "You can read something into a lot of things that mean nothing.  I was trying to focus on where I was going. I'm looking straight down the fairway and trying to keep my focus really strong. 

"I'm trying to give the impression, I don't care that I've just hit it over here and I'm on the wrong fairway and look stupid, I'm focused on what I'm doing; I'm into this and I'm going to do my job.

"He obviously had a little grin and to me, it was a 'what are you doing over here' sort of thing. Who knows what it meant. I was merely to give the impression it was business as usual, to give the impression is wasn't bothered."

The pair have never spoken about Carnoustie 2007 and Harrington doesn't expect that to change until Garcia's wins his first Major and realises that the defeats have as big a role to play as the victories in a player's a psychological make up.

Harrington said: "It's when he wins a major, as with any tournament, he'll realize the losses aren't that big a deal.  You could throw away many tournaments but when you get your wins, they make all of those losses okay.

"So he needs to go and win one. When he does, I'm sure he'll look back at The Open and say, I gained some experience in 2007 to help me do this, that it was a learning experience. So he'll turn it into a positive."

And with that he got up to prepare for Royal Birkdale 2008. History awaits and Harrington is ready to play his part again.