By Brian Keogh
Padraig Harrington won the Open thanks to an SOS to world No 2 Phil Mickelson.
The desperate Dubliner was so worried about his wrist injury that he called the left-hander to borrow his high-tech laser healing machine.
In a bizarre twist to Harrington’s amazing Open double at Royal Birkdale, the Irish ace revealed that he spent half an hour in Mickelson’s luxury hotel suite every second night last week.
And while world No 3 Harrington is massively grateful to the three-time Major winner, he’s already plotting a way of stealing the American’s world No 2 ranking and chasing to down Tiger Woods as world No 1.
Harrington revealed: “I never told anybody last week, but the laser treatment I was getting on my wrist was through Phil Mickelson.
“Ever since he injured his wrist at the US Open last year, he has this laser or light treatment device that be brings everywhere with him.
“I got his number and rang him on the Sunday of Loch Lomond. He set it up and told me what I needed to do. I got the treatment from him in his hotel room suite and I was treated ever second day.
“I said nothing about it during the Open because I didn’t want him getting distracted by people asking him about it.
“We spent the week talking about airplanes. He’s selling his G2 and looking for a G5 but his old plane would need too many modifications for me to buy it.”
Harrington even turned up at Mickelson’s luxury hotel - The Vincent in Southport - at 10 pm on the eve of the first round and was spied looking distracted in the lobby.
But he revealed that he was simply using the time to work on his mental game. And that could be the key to him taking over from the left-hander as World No 2 over the next year.
Harrington said: “It was 10 o’clock at night and I was sitting there waiting for Phil to come back from dinner and using my time very well - visualising the course.
“People where coming up to me asking me, ‘Are you okay?’ And I am going, I am okay. I am actually busy. I am visualising.”
Up from 14th to a career high of world No3, Harrington confessed that he has already started thinking of what he has to do to become world No 2.
He said: “I was shaving this morning and it did cross my mind what I needed to do to catch world No 2.
“Certainly to get to world No 1 you have to get to world No 2. It's a tough battle to catch Phil there, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind the competition. It will probably push both of us on.
“World No 1 is a little bit further up there, but as I said Phil knows he has to push on, and I know I have to if I want to catch Tiger. It's quite a few wins away.”
Victory in the US PGA still wouldn’t be enough to catch Mickelson in the rankings, though it would close the 3.31 gap in the points average to just 1.77.
But Harrington is just happy to know that he now has the game to wait patiently in Majors before pouncing on the back nine.
He said: “I think that I will have gained confidence from this one. It is a progression. What gives me confidence about this win was that I was in position with nine times to go and I grabbed it.
“It was a tremendous confidence boost to me. I was favourite going out there and I grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. I could have played that back nine in one over par. I went there and won the Open by playing the golf.
“First I won the Order of Merit, then I won the Irish Open and then I won the Open. There are a number of situations where I have turned up and produced the goods.
“Bob Torrance always says that a good player can play great when the feeling is upon him but a great player can play good when he needs to. And I am moving up to that level where I am able to perform when I have to.”
Harrington played the back nine at the Open better than any of the leading contenders - giving himself two eagle chances and seven birdie putts in nine holes.
He didn’t allow himself to celebrate winning the Open until his tee shot at the 18th touched down safely in the fairway as he led by four shots.
But he did admit while he always convinced himself that he was going to win, he never got ahead of himself.
He said: “I was convincing myself all through the last round that I would win. But you can’t get into the consequences of winning. And it is amazing those two things don’t always work together. Convincing yourself you are going to win but not thinking about the consequences.
“It is a fine art being confident and not being distracted by it. If I win this I will be third in the world, or start making up your speech or any of those things.
“You have got to be in the moment but assured and comfortable that you are going to win so that when you get in position, it doesn’t feel anything out of the ordinary.
“I would say I hit the ball and was more comfortable than I have ever been in that situation. I was more hyped up on the back nine at Carnoustie. I was on a higher plane. This year I was comfortable.
“It was one-shot-at-a-time conditions and it helped me stay focussed. The only time I took a deep break was walking to the first tee and on my second shot to the 15th.”
Mickelson is now looking nervously over his shoulder for Harrington in the world rankings. When Tiger returns next year, the Big Two will be joined by a very ambitious Irishman.