Harrington on Masters champ Garcia: "He was a very sore loser and continued to be a very sore loser"

Harrington on Masters champ Garcia: "He was a very sore loser and continued to be a very sore loser"

When Pádraig Harrington dashed out of Sky Sports' Augusta National studios and jumped straight onto a buggy on Sunday night, he apologised for not stopping, saying he was already late for an appointment. Perhaps it was just as well he didn't speak in the heat of the moment.

As an Irish reporter in the minutes after Sergio Garcia finally broke his major duck, Harrington was the obvious first port of call. But while missing him by seconds was an irritation, you sensed it was for the best that the Dubliner wasn't pressed too hard on his "antithesis" from Borriol.

Given the long-standing animosity that exists between them, taking the high road in a buggy — by design or accident — looked like a good move until the Dubliner let the Spaniard have it with both barrels when returning a call from 2FM's Game On radio show hosted by Gary Murphy and on Tuesday.

While Harrington's run-in with Josá María Olazábal over excessive "gardening" in the 2003 Seve Trophy raised the hackles of both the Basque and a host of Spanish players, including García, their  rivalry has been marked by bad blood for years.

What happened with Olazábal at El Saler in 2003 (See this, this and this on that sad incident) did not endear Harrington to the Spaniards, García in particular.

Clearly, their mutual anomosity manifested itself in those bloddy battles for the 2007 Open and 2008 US PGA, both of which went Harrington's way.

Harrington certainly he had no problem telling the world that he thinks the Spaniard is a sore loser, having discovered that first hand when beating him in 2007 at Carnoustie and 2008 at Oakland Hills.

Pressed on their differences, he once said described García as "the antithesis of me," and even though their mutual anomosity was put aside for Ryder Cup purposes, they never buried the hatchet.

Asked to explain his fraught relationship with García, Harrington told Game On:

"It's very simple. Myself and Sergio have been on tour as long as each other. We would have been the opposite. His is a very flamboyant game, everything comes easy. There were periods he never practised. We were such opposites. I worked at it, grinded it out. Got the best out of it. 

"I’m very strong on the etiquette of the game, so I don’t tolerate people spitting in the hole, throwing their shoes or throwing golf clubs. That would be my attitude. And it would be quite clear where I came from. 

"Then we went into the majors and I obviously I beat him at the majors and I gave him every out I possibly could. I gave him every out I possibly could have at the 2007 Open.

"I was as polite as I could and was as generous as I could be, but he was a very sore loser. And he continued to be a very sore loser.

"So clearly, after that, we have had a very sticky wicket after that. The Ryder Cup improved it after that but we say hello to each other every day and it is through gritted teeth, there is no doubt about it. I know he is watching what I am doing and I am watching what he is doing. It is one of those things. He's a rival."

Harrington conceded that he was pleased to see Garcia's emotional reaction to his win on the first extra hole and felt happy for him and his family. 

"I was delighted to see the emotion on the 18th green," Harrington said. "Maybe I am a bit harsh with the fact that I look and say, well, everything comes easy to Sergio.

"But clearly it hasn't come easy to Sergio. You could see in that moment in time that he has paid his dues. I might have had a chip on my shoulder about that. 

"Had Sergio paid his dues? I suppose he was a bigger star than he was performer. He has definitely paid his dues now. I could see it in his emotion. His future wife — I met her at the Ryder Cup — she is a lovely girl. I feel for them. Everyone likes the parents.

"The genuine emotion and the thrill of winning, I could see that as a competitor and appreciate that. I was very happy for him, no doubt about it, in that moment." 

In short, Harrington was happy for García the competitor, even if he could not quite bring himself to be happy for Garcia the person.

Too much has gone on between them on the golf course and one wonders if Rose was almost too friendly with Garcia on Sunday and how things might have gone had it Harrington been there instead.

Rose admitted on Sunday that at one stage, he thought he had it won. From that point, García grew in stature

"There’s nothing worse in sport than when you have an intensity and you let yourself down from that," Harrington said. "I was amazed he actually said it, he felt he has it won

"There’s nothing worse in sport than when you have an intensity and you let yourself down from that.

"Obviously, he continued to played well, but I think he’ll look back at the misses on 11, 12, 13, the short putt on 17, and ultimately it could have been within his own power to win that tournament and not let it come down to the dying seconds."