He won't try to kid you that he isn't already thinking about the Masters. "I love Augusta National. It's the ultimate test," he says. "You have to hit all the shots, and it's intimidating down the stretch, very intimidating. In terms of results I've done O.K. there. It is a course I like, yes, and it is a course that suits me. But it also scares the hell out of me."
In nine Masters, Harrington's best finishes have been a pair of fifths (last year and 2002) and a seventh ('07), with six rounds (out of 32) in the 60s. "Padraig is somebody who Tiger is going to have to deal with in major championships," says Tour veteran Paul Goydos, who opened his '09 by coming in a solid 17th at Torrey. "He's one of the few guys in Tiger's ballpark when it comes to managing his game. I'm at the bottom of that list, but Padraig thinks his way around the course extremely well."
Harrington's short game, especially his putting, may rival Tiger's. The Masters has a reputation for favoring bombers, but the truth is that more great putters win it than big hitters. "Padraig does everything well, and he putts great," says Kevin Sutherland, who was paired with Harrington on Saturday and finished 35th. "I'd rate his game a 10 out of 10. Who else is a 10? Maybe only Tiger. Everyone else has something, a little hole in their game."
The focus at the Masters will inevitably be on Woods. His return to the Tour, at a date still to be determined, will be a major happening. Harrington expects—and perhaps hopes—that Woods will also draw most of the spotlight at Augusta, which is likely. Harrington has won three majors and two in a row, yet somehow remains under the radar in the U.S. At Torrey Pines he never had a gallery of more than 70 or 80 fans.
Maybe it's due to his humility. The first face you see on Harrington's official website, PadraigHarrington.com, isn't Paddy's. It's the face of James Braid, the last European to win consecutive British Opens until Harrington did it 102 years later. "I thought having a little history would be nice," Harrington says.
Making history is even better, as he can attest.
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