Harrington marches to his own drum

Padraig Harrington surprised his guests on Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner at Hazeltine.

It wasn’t so much the menu as the traditional present the defending champion presented to the other 16 former winners in attendance as a parting gift.Harrington’s choice - bodhráns.

How Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh or John Daly reacted to being presented with the traditional Irish drum is anyone’s guess, but we always knew that Harrington marches to the beat of a different drummer.

As for the food, Harrington and his wife Caroline went to great pains to pick out the menu to suit all palates.

The first course was a leek and potato soup, followed by the choice of smoked salmon on soda bread and warm cabbage salad with bacon and Roquefort.

The main course offered another option: Irish Beef Stew braised in Guinness with Colcannon, and grilled salmon with Irish Champ and seasonal vegetables.

Dessert was Irish whiskey cake, cheesecake with a Bailey’s caramel coulis or Irish pudding.

Youngest and oldest

Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year old Japanese sensation, is the youngest player to compete in the PGA Championship. The oldest player in the field at Hazeltine is club pro Chris Starkjohann, who is 53.

Rule of four

Ireland has four players in the field in defending champion Padraig Harrington and Ulster trio Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.

But one American club has four players taking part. Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, California is represented by Paul Goydos, John Mallinger, John Merrick and teaching professional Mike Miles.

Question of the week

New York writer Jay Flemma risked the wrath of Tiger Woods when he as the great one about how he planned to curb is penchant to drop the “F-Bomb” and fling clubs around in anger.

Which was better, the question or the answer?

Flemma: “There's been a lot written by some very prominent journalists that's been sharply critical of swearing and club slamming on the golf course during majors and other tournaments, how do you feel when you see these things that go out that women and kids and fans see, and do you think that if you made a change now, that people would find your reputation as a sportsman as equally impregnable and unassailable as your reputation as a championship golfer.”

Tiger Woods: “That's a great question, or statement. (Laughter). It is what it is. Unfortunately I do make mistakes, and I hit bad shots and I say bad things at times. I don't mean to; it just comes out. It's not something that I try and do. It just happens. Have I been trying to get better at that? Yeah, my entire life. But it happens from time to time, and I'm not the only person that does it.”

My money’s on the question. He’s not the only one who does it? Since when is that a valid excuse.

What’s in a name

Why is Hazeltine National Golf Club called Hazeltine? According to the PGA of America, it is named after Susan Hazeltine, the first teacher in Carver County, Minnesota, the host county this week.

She started the county's first school in 1855 and the lake next to the course was named Lake Hazeltine in her honour. When the golf club opened in 1962, choosing a name was easy.

50 up for Tiger

This week’s US PGA is Tiger Woods’ 50th major as a professional. His results, needless to say, have been outstanding. Apart from his 14 wins - 4 Masters, 4 US PGAs, 3 US Opens and 3 Opens - he has finished second six times, third three times and finished in the top 10 another eight times. His failure in the Open at Turnberry was only his second missed cut in a Grand Slam since he joined the paid ranks in August 1996.

Twittering away

The social phenomenon that is Twitter is all the rage amongst the professionals in action at Hazeltine.

Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, Geoff Ogilvy, Rory McIlroy and even 45-year old Davis Love III are all adept at the text messaging fad.

Poulter got in some hot water with some “tweets”, as the messages are known, when he posted a compromising picture of Justin Rose using a lavatory on a private jet.

The spiky haired one was forced to remove the snap when complaints flooded in, which is why McIlroy limits his posts to life on tour and little else.

Explaining why he gives little away when he’s not at an event, McIlroy said: “It's good to keep in touch with people who follow you, But I don't do it at home. I really don't want everybody to know what I'm up to when I'm at home. I think people want to know about what life's like out on tour rather than just what we're up to every day.”

Furyk knows his man

Tiger Woods was asked at Firestone what he thought about Padraig Harrington as a hard worker.

He said if there were two people in golf that at he would recommend people to use as role models, he singled out Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Harrington.

Asked if he felt that Harrington was a kindred spirit, Furyk showed he’s a man with a sense of humour.

“My Irish brother? Irish cousin?,” he said with a grin. “I never met an Irishman that didn't drink until I met Paddy. So that's a start.”

McDowell's helter skelter

They do things big in America and nothing is bigger than the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

The New York Times reports that biggest retail mall in the country attracts more visitors annually than Disney World, Graceland and the Grand Canyon combined.

Wondering how long it would take to shop at every store at Mall of America? If a shopper spent 10 minutes browsing at every store it would take them more than 86 hours to complete their visit to Mall of America.

Big enough to house 32 Boeing 747s, it also features several indoor rollercoasters, including the Orange Streak.

Graeme McDowell visited the mall with his caddie Ken Comboy this week.

"He wouldn't get on the rollercoaster," Comboy revealed with a grin. "He chickened out."

Wacky Westwood

England's Lee Westwood is not a fan of the mental gurus who look after the likes of Padraig Harrington or Graeme McDowell.

Judging by his comments at Hazeltine National yesterday, the Englishman reckons they are a weird bunch and not for him.

Asked if he had ever been tempted to take to the psychologist's couch, he said: "No, look at them all, they all look a bit odd, like they need to see somebody, I find it a bit hard to take anybody like that serious."

As the assembled press fell around laughing, Westwood added: "Well, they do. I'm sorry. That's the way I see it. I've always felt mentally quite stable. Don't feel like I need it."

Playing in his 13th US PGA, the world No 13 is hoping for a bit of luck this week after finishing tied third in the Open this year and last year's US Open at Torrey Pines.