Padraig Harrington will never forget the day that YE Yang became the first Asian-born golfer to win a major with a supreme US PGA victory at Hazeltine National last night.
It wasn’t that the 37-year old Korean birdied the last for a 70 to beat a wobbling Tiger Woods (75) by an incredible three shots on eight under par but the almost unbelievable quintuple bogey eight that the Dubliner racked up on the par-three eighth to see his hopes of a fourth major title sink without trace.
Two visits to the greenside lake at the 167-yard par three - in the land of 10,000 lakes - will be Harrington’s legacy here.
A true champion that he is, he did well to card a six over par 78 to finish tied for 10th on level par but on terms of major championship catastrophes, this one will hurt as much as Jean Van de Velde’s 72nd hole implosion at Carnoustie in 1999.
“Obviously it was disappointing for me,” said Harrington, who joined third placed Rory McIlroy and 10th ranked Graeme McDowell in the top 10. “I only got out of position on one hole.”
Just a week after taking an excruciating eight at Firestone’s 16th to hand Woods the Bridgestone Invitational, the Dubliner repeated the trick in unbelievable fashion in Minnesota when parred the first seven holes and was tied for second with the eventual champion on six under par - just a stroke behind Woods.
But with the wind whipping into his face, he went for the pin, blocked his six-iron dangerously and grimaced as it splashed down in the pond right of the green.
The Dubliner then elected to play his third shot from the drop zone at the end of the tee but bailed out on his 105-yard approach and pulled it so far left that playing partner Henrik Stenson and his caddie Fanny Sunesson had to duck for cover.
Harrington’s ball plunged into deep rough 20 yards left of the green and from there he gave an action replay of the shot that cost him a triple bogey eight and the title at the par-five 16th hole in the final round at Firestone just seven days earlier, where he was one ahead of Woods at the time.
Buried in the cabbage, he tried to hit a flop shot to a pin situated just five yards from the right hand side of the green but got too much club on the ball and watched in horror as his fourth shot flew straight over the green and into the water hazard again.
Dropping in deep rough for six, Harrington could only flub his next effort a 12 yards forward into more deep rough and he did well to chop is seventh stroke down to four feet and hole a slippery putt for an eight.
As a result he dropped from tied second to 11th, going from six under to one under in the blink of an eye and the rest was a blur.
“It just didn't carry up,” Harrington said. “To be honest I needed to get up to the middle of the green ask that's what I was think to go hit it straight down the pin and I thought I had room on the right‑hand side and it was probably two or three yards short from being safe.”
Harrington was interviewed on the range before the start and explained that he expected a tough battle on a day when a 20 mph south wind was buffeting the course.
He said: “It’s very windy out there so it is going to be tough for everyone. I am only three behind and three is not big to make up.”
Of course, Harrington was only two behind Woods going out and CBS analyst Nick Faldo jumped on his error.
“Three shots? It’s only two,” Faldo smirked. “And he calls himself an accountant.”
Harrington needed to be an accountant to keep count of his shots on the eighth, where he racked up his biggest score since he took a nine at the 12th in the first round of the 2001 US PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club.
But his woes were quickly forgotten as Woods and Yang produced a classic title battle down the stretch.
Tied for the lead on six under par after nine holes, Woods edged clear with a birdie at the par-five 11th before a poor chip at the 12th led to his third bogey of the day.
Yang holed a clutch par putt at the 13th to remain tied but then came a moment of magic from the Korea at the 301-yard, par four 13th, where he chipped in from 20 yards for eagle to move two shots clear on eight under.
Woods was just eight feet away in two after bunkering his tee shot but he nervelessly rolled in the birdie putt to walk off just a shot behind. Tellingly, it was the only significant putt that Woods holed all day
With a perfect 14-0 record when leading a major after 54 holes, Woods opened the door with a lacklustre performance on the greens and had no answer to Yang’s brilliance coming down the stretch.
After failing to birdie the par five 15th or the signature 16th, Woods needed to put the pressure on over the last two holes but finished with two bogeys.
Both men dropped shots at the 17th to leave Yang one clear on seven under playing the last. But Woods missed the green, Yang fired a career defining fairway wood to 9-feet and holed the putt for victory before the American lamely failed with his par attempt and had to settle for a three-over par 75.
With McIlroy a brilliant third after a closing 70, McDowell was the third Irishman inside the top ten, clinching his best finish in a major when he tied for 10th on level par after a 72.
“I'm very happy,” said McDowell, who offset bogeys at the first, 12th and 17th with birdies at the sixth, 15th and 16th. “I didn't go to the first tee on Thursday feeling particularly good about my game, but I've consistently played better every day.
“I struggled a little bit today. It was tough, really difficult wind direction today. Nothing really seems to come easy but I hung in there well.
Tied for 17th in the Masters, McDowell believes he is getting to grips with the challenges of the majors and can contend for victory some day.
“I think I've learned how to attack these things now,” he said. “They are different from regular events. You have to work out how to prepare yourself physically and your game.
“I've really enjoyed my four majors this year. I can build on this and look forward to next year and try and win one.”