Harrington overcomes major hurdle with Indonesia win — himself
Like old times. Pádraig Harrington celebrates a key putt with a fist pump. Picture: Khalid Redza /  ASIAN TOUR 

Like old times. Pádraig Harrington celebrates a key putt with a fist pump. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

Some wins make bigger headlines that others but even though he didn't win a million dollars or a fourth major, Pádraig Harrington's two-shot triumph in Indonesia on Sunday could go down as a massive milestone in the storied career of one of Europe's greatest players.

The 43-year old Dubliner brought four winless years of frustration to an end when he made  a nervy start and saw his four-shot lead turned into a two-shot deficit before he took advantage of a heaven-sent weather delay and a dose of pure willpower to get over the line in the BANK BRI Indonesia Open.

"I would think that this is an important win," Harrington said after clinching a two-shot victory in Jakarta when his rival double bogeyed the final hole.

"I’m better when I’m fighting and little behind. I’m always a lot better chasing. I struggled when I was leading because I get defensive. There are going to be mistakes made. My desire to win was really strong."

Winner Pádraig Harrington with the BANK BRI Indonesia Open trophy.  Picture:   Khalid Redza /   ASIAN TOUR 

Winner Pádraig Harrington with the BANK BRI Indonesia Open trophy. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

Harrington had already clawed his way back to share the lead with the 24-year old world No 397 Thanyakon Khrongpha by that stage and when the young Thai crumbled and found water with his approach, the Dubliner hit a stellar six-iron to 10 feet to set up a tournament winning par.

He had two for the win but rolled home the par putt for what is one of the biggest wins of his career in terms of its potential psychological benefits.

"Winning is a good habit to have," Harrington said. "It gives you a lot of confidence and I need that confidence. I didn’t start too well but I came through and I got the win. That’s very important to realise. This win does bring a lot of confidence to my game and hopefully it will show up next year."

That his 29th professional win was worth $135,000 and a morale-boosting jump from 385th to around 260th in the world is merely anecdotal. 

Pádraig Harrington salutes the gallery at the 18th.   Picture:   Khalid Redza /   ASIAN TOUR 

Pádraig Harrington salutes the gallery at the 18th. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

As for those who will point out that it was a small Asian Tour event where there was just one member of the world's Top 100 taking part - India's world No 70 Anirhabn Lahiri — or that there were only four of the top 200 and the average world ranking was 937, Harrington will care not a whit.

This was all about Harrington's battle with himself.

He returned the course at dawn with a five-stroke lead and five holes of his third round to compete. And while he played them in level par for a 67, he was just four ahead of the Thailand's Thanyakon Khrongpha when the final round began without a redraw.

His anxiousness to emerge from the wilderness cost him dear and he trailed by two shots with 11 holes to play having three putted the first hole for bogey (his only three-putt of the week) and then double bogeyed the par-three seventh.

Mercifully for Harrington, he holed a huge birdie putt from the fringe at the eighth to get back to within one of the leader and punched the air with as much vehemence we haven't seen since he put Sergio Garcia to the sword on the 72nd green in the 2008 US PGA at Oakland Hills.

Winner Pádraig Harrington commiserates with runner up   Thanyakon Khrongpha. Picture:   Khalid Redza /   ASIAN TOUR 

Winner Pádraig Harrington commiserates with runner up Thanyakon Khrongpha. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

Khrongpha had made birdies at the first, third and fifth and gone from four behind to two ahead when Harrington doubled the seventh.

Fortunately for Harrington, the golfing gods intervened to give him some respite in terms of a weather delay and when he came back out he was a different man and some good play put huge pressure on his opponent, who crumbled on the 72nd hole.

"I didn’t really take my chances on the last couple of holes," Harrington said. "I was a little bit cautious in the final round. It is never a great mind-set to have when you are trying not to make mistakes.

"I hit a few bad shots early on and I hit a careless shot on the seventh hole. The biggest thing for me at that stage was that I was really praying for a rain delay. My momentum was gone but Thanyakon was flying and he didn’t miss a shot.

"When the thunderstorm came in, we were really happy because it gave us a break. Golf is strange like that because a player playing with momentum; plays unbelievable golf. After the suspension I knew it was like a new day for me. I knew it was going to be all the way to the end."

Harrington splashes out. Picture: Khalid Redza /  ASIAN TOUR 

Harrington splashes out. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

Khrongpha bogeyed the 12th to allow Harrington to draw level on 14 under and while both birdied the par-five 13th and 17th holes to go to the last tied on 16 under, it was the Thai who blinked first.

With Harrington unfortunate to see his tee shot end up in the edge of a hazard, Khrongpha had a chance to seal the win but opened the door instead by finding water right of the green with his approach. 

"I had a bad break on the 18th hole when I hit my tee shot and it bounced into the edge of the hazard," Harrington said. "My third shot was the best shot of the week because I sort of hit better shots when I’m under pressure.

"I’ve never been comfortable on the 18th hole since I hit my tee shot into the water during the pro-am. I was disappointed to find my ball on the edge of the hazard. I was about to chip my ball sideways to the fairway and give myself a chance to get a four. 

"But when Thanyakon hit it into the water, there was no point to take a chance. Five was possibly going to be good enough for a play-off or a win. So I went back to the fairway and hit my six iron for my best shot of the week. My strategy did change based on what I saw."

Harrington has been chasing momentum for some time but instead found it almost impossible to translate the good feelings he has had about his game into results. Call it the cost of high expectations.

Having largely overcome the putting yips, he found that the harder he tried, the higher his expectations and the tougher the challenge.

As a result, he had the worst season of his 19-year professional career until Sunday's win, playing 32 events and missing a record 14 cuts.

In an interesting co-incidence, Harrington's last win also came on the Asian Tour in 2010, when he won the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia.

Padraig Harrington was supporting a local charity on his cap. Picture: Khalid Redza /  ASIAN TOUR 

Padraig Harrington was supporting a local charity on his cap. Picture: Khalid Redza / ASIAN TOUR 

He also opened with a 64 that week and also shot successively higher rounds to win by three shots from Noh Seung-yul — 64, 67, 68, 69.

Harrington generously paid triibute to the runner up after the round and the Thai admitted that the pressure got to him

"It was a great final round from me but I was under so much pressure on the last hole," he said. "I’m still happy with how I played. The rain delay stopped my momentum. It wasn’t good. I really did my best out there. Only pressure made me scared. When I get into contention more often, I think I will feel more comfortable."

Harrington didn't build on that 2010 win, succumbing to the yips and slumping from 23rd in the world at the end of that year to 85th at the end of 2011

It says much about him than he still had a chance to win the US Open in 2012 and while he's not in the world's Top 50 and needs two more big wins to get himself back into all the majors, it would be foolish to bet against him adding to that major haul.

As he said at the finish, this wins will give him a much needed injection of confidence in his game.

He's already got self-confidence.

"I go onto the first tee now with much more confidence than I did in 2005-6-7, which is a strange analogy, but that's the truth of it," he said recently. 

"I feel great going out there now because I understand so much more now. Back then I didn't understand stuff and in many ways, I was more fearful back then and now I don't have that fear. 

"I don't get out of bed and think, what's going to happen... I'm just a different person."

What hasn't changed is the fact that he's a comeptitive animal with the same will to win. As he said himself, roll on 2015.

As he said in the television interview after his win: "I have 49 days off, seven weeks, and I reckon my goal is to make, let me get this right, 100,000 swings, 2,000 swings a day. I look forward to seeing if I can do it."