July 22, 2007

Irish Eyes Are Smiling:
Padraig Harrington wins in a playoff to grab the claret jug and secure his first major golf title. Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Andres Romero provided enough wild shots on the final two holes of Carnoustie to remind everyone (as ABC/ESPN was happy to do) of Jean Van de Velde's collapse in 1999 (video).

posted by grum@work to golf at 06:10 PM - 31 comments

(note: the video link at the end is what Van de Velde did later that year, and is well worth watching)

posted by grum@work at 06:19 PM on July 22, 2007

I think I'll grab a pint or whiskey and celebrate a wee bit into the night

posted by water1 at 10:18 PM on July 22, 2007

I was far too busy with Harry Potter and then catching up on Jekyll to watch any of the golf (or pay any attention to the tri nations, damnations), but I'm glad that Harington won. The Sunday Game (all about GAA) showed a clip of his father, or possibly grandfather, playing football in honour of his win, which was a nice tough.

posted by Fence at 03:36 AM on July 23, 2007

I was rooting against Sergio all weekend and I have no idea why.

posted by bperk at 07:21 AM on July 23, 2007

bperk, I'm in the same boat as you. Don't know what it was, but I really didn't want to see him win. I think he rankles me, but I'm not quite sure at this point. Can't wait to hear JJ's take on this one.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:57 AM on July 23, 2007

I was rooting against Sergio all weekend and I have no idea why. I think watching Sergio in any Ryder Cup is enough of a reason to want to see him fail. He's like the cocky kid everyone knew growing up. He really didn't bother me this past weekend, though, as much as in the past. He kept his demeanor pretty cool, and he no longer takes 22 minutes to address each shot. That being said, the 18th hole was ridiculous once again. Harrington's tee shot almost making it over the bridge was a classic. If Stricker couldn't win it, I'm happy with Harrington.

posted by dyams at 10:21 AM on July 23, 2007

I was rooting against Sergio all weekend and I have no idea why. I was rooting for him. He seemed to have all his emotions in control, but I knew that if he won, it would be a joyous occassion for him. It would have made for good TV. That said, after watching Harrington try and "Van de Velde" the trophy away on the 18th, I was pulling for Padraig to win in the playoff. I didn't want to see anyone ruin the great legacy that VdV had built by almost duplicating the feat.

posted by grum@work at 11:24 AM on July 23, 2007

I have always had a sore spot for Serg. I know it's because he used to take so long on all his shots and it bugged me for no real valid reason other than it did. He seems to have gotten away from doing that, but I still can't find myself in his camp. That having been said, cheers out to Paddy Harrington and all fellows (and lasses) of Irish lineage. I'm Irish. I celebrate everything.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:22 PM on July 23, 2007

I'm Irish. I celebrate everything. What else can you say; we're a proud and happy people.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:56 PM on July 23, 2007

A most enjoyable Open. I was hoping Ernie was going to make a charge, but he looks increasingly like a beaten man these days. I think it's the Woods effect - so many are used to not winning these days that they're getting good at it. There have been many casualties of Tiger's reign at the top, but for me Els got the worst of it. In any other era, he would have won a lot more and been even more highly regarded than he is now; he just had the misfortune to be at his best when Woods arrived. Of the various things I've read about the Open, this article from Lynne Truss in the Times was maybe my favourite: So this is what we all dreaded: Yesterday, in a shock result, the 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie was won by Scott Bunface III, a 32-year-old journeyman player from Kansas City, Missouri, known only for his Christian beliefs, his distinctive, top-to-toe, dove-grey apparel and his quiet teetotalism. I am of course thrilled for Padraig (although should point out, to Lynne Truss and to you, that he is that rarest of birds, a teetotal Irishman, and as such he and I didn't really "hang out" when we played in many of the same amateur tournaments). Of the three Irishmen who have been floating around the upper echelons of golf in recent years (Clarke, McGinley and Harrington), it always seemed to me (and many others) that although Clarke had the game and McGinley had the grind, only Harrington had both. Any one of them could have won a major, but Padraig's probably the only one of the three who will convert it into winning more than one. I watched him lose in the final of the North of Ireland Championship for the second time in three years in 1995 (fortunately, I can't find a link to say what round I lost in). After the prize ceremony, everyone collected in the bar to celebrate with the winner and commiserate with the loser (and generally just use any excuse they could find to get pickled). But there was no sign of the loser. Some said he had gone home in a huff. Others said that as he didn't drink, why would he bother coming in? But the truth was (so I'm led to believe) that he was on the range hitting balls. That seems the most likely to me, and is certainly the story that sums him up. No one works harder. Not even Woods. Sergio is a likeable guy when he's winning, but the moment he first raised his eyes to the sky and started complaining (with about six holes to go on Sunday it started), I knew he'd gone mentally and I remembered why I don't much like him. It's always someone or something else's fault. I would have had a lot more respect for him in defeat had he just been honest and said "You know what? I'm a really bad putter. I'm better than I was last year, but I still have a long way to go with it. Also, let's face it, I just shot 73 and got into a playoff. If I can't produce level fours in the last round to win, then maybe I don't deserve to." Instead he moaned about his luck and about how long he had to wait to hit his second shot into the last (a professional golfer who can't handle having to wait? Forget it. If you can't handle that, you're in the wrong profession). He moans, and he whinges, and for as long as he does that, he'll never be as good as he might one day become. I loved Romero's cameo (but I'm glad he didn't win it) - in a way, his was the true upholding of the Carnoustie spirit of "The Frenchman". Harrington dumped two in the water - one from a bad shot, one from sheer nerves - but neither shot was cavalier. Romero on the other hand took on a ridiculous shot, made a complete monkey of it, and was very unlucky to be punished quite so severely for it. In my opinion, that's exactly what happened to VDV. Romero bore his misfortune as he bore everything else all week - with a bit of a smile and a bit of a shrug. He has the bright eyed look of someone who knows he will be winning majors someday and Sunday was just one more step on the learning curve. Woods was disappointing, but not as disappointing as the BBC who just can't stop cutting to him anyway, no matter how badly he's playing, just in case he does something or starts a charge. It reminded me of how boring it used to be when Faldo was in the same boat in the early 90s - you would get two-tier coverage - the tournament was braodcast side-by-side with Nick-cam. And finally (he blogged), a word for Rory McIlroy, the amateur from my home town who won the silver medal. When I was 21, I played a club match against his dad. After the game, we sat in the clubhouse and were approached by a seven-year old boy who turned out to be Rory. He was introduced and someone said they'd seen him practicing while we'd been playing and that he had a nice swing. He said thank you and announced (somehow without sounding ridiculous or precious) that he was going to be famous someday because he practiced very hard. For a cheap laugh, I asked him for his autograph, which he (stealing the cheap laugh) gave me. As so many of the stories in my life end, I then got drunk and lost it. Ever since I was a child, I knew there was going to be a world famous golfing superstar from Holywood, County Down. I always thought it was going to be me, but now that it's not, I'm glad it's going to be Rory. He played beautifully, he spoke to the press with a measured confidence that belies his age, and if doesn't win the Open someday, I'll eat my hat. [Fence - if you like Jekyll, you probably like Nesbit, and if you like Nesbit, you'll probably like this story.]

posted by JJ at 04:58 AM on July 24, 2007

Great writeup JJ, thanks.

posted by holden at 07:05 AM on July 24, 2007

Thanks for a nice peek behind the scenes, JJ. I think your hat is safe from being consumed; McIlroy certainly looks like a comer.

posted by Howard_T at 07:40 AM on July 24, 2007

He does, but, you know, when I was eighteen, I'm sure I was at it all the time too and you can't really blame a red blooded teenaged man for occasionally slipping off to the privacy of... oh wait, I see what you mean.

posted by JJ at 07:59 AM on July 24, 2007

When there's a hard-bound edition of these golf posts of yours available, do let me know. Unless it's really expensive and then you'll have to let my mom know it's on my Xmas list.

posted by yerfatma at 09:21 AM on July 24, 2007

Looks like a comer? Hard and bound? It's just all about the filth today.

posted by JJ at 09:44 AM on July 24, 2007

Nice post JJ. And no I hate and despite Nesbitt. Okay, that is going a little far, but I usually don't like him as an actor. After his first big break, what was it? Cold Feet? you couldn't turn on the telly but he'd be there, flogging some BT crap. Still, I'm really enjoying Jekyll. One of de brudders is a big golf fan and has been saying for some time that McIlroy is the next big thing. Looks like it. You really should have kept a closer eye on that autograph.

posted by Fence at 04:57 AM on July 25, 2007

Hate and despise isn't going anywhere near far enough. I can't abide him and haven't even given Jekyll a chance on the basis that he is in it. And he's a Man Utd fan. It'll be interesting to see if McIlroy can come through like a lot of others haven't really. One thing about the Open that really struck me was how many bright young things there are out there now who have become faded didn't-quite-make-it-yets (Rose, Donald, Garcia, Casey, Poulter). Rose in particular burst onto the scene as an amateur at the (1998) Open, but it has taken almost a decade for him to look like he might even sniff challenging for a major. Hopefully Rory can avoid the same pitfalls as Rose dived headlong into.

posted by JJ at 05:27 AM on July 25, 2007

How did poor Jimmy Nesbit get this reputation in NI? One of the first things we talk about when my sister and her man come home is if there are any new Tales of Nesbitt. If gossip is to be believed, he's in every bar in Belfast nightly, hitting on anything with a heartbeat.

posted by yerfatma at 06:36 AM on July 25, 2007

I know next to nothing of his personal life (other than that he's United scum, obviously), I just can't stand him as an actor. I also can't stand it when people tell me I sound like him (which I don't) just because we both come from Northern Ireland. It would be like telling every Scotsman you met that he sounded like Billy Connolly, when these days no one but billy Connolly sounds like Billy Connolly. And those bloody Yellow Pages adverts... Jesus. Damn it, I just looked for (and found) one on YouTube and it made me laugh even though I was trying not to.

posted by JJ at 06:48 AM on July 25, 2007

"Dad... can we put ladybirds in it?"

posted by JJ at 08:58 AM on July 25, 2007

It would be like telling every Scotsman you met that he sounded like Billy Connolly You mean you stare back at the people blankly until they tell you who Nesbitt is? BBC America is still running Murphy's Law, which had a couple of really enjoyable seasons (IMHO) and I liked Millions, though mainly for the kids and the less-than-holy take on the Saints.

posted by yerfatma at 09:11 AM on July 25, 2007

As so many of the stories in my life end, I then got drunk and lost it. Quite sincerely, I wish I had the wit and ability, JJ, to tell tales like this and have them come over so funny and charming. Whenever I try to tell a story like that it almost invariably results in an intervention and a lot of crying. I am the Lindsay Lohan to your Peter O'Toole. The story about Harrington blowing off the post-match celebration in '95 reads to me a bit like petulance under the veil of a work ethic. I'm not clear on the formality or tradition that goes with this toasting event, but I would think the guy could make an appearance. Maybe I'm drawing on the umpteen people I know whose "work ethic" becomes strongest when the alternative is an unpalatable opportunity to show some grace. The more I hear about Harrington the more I come to believe that he has all the virtues I despise and none of the vices I admire.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2007

Looks like a comer? Hard and bound? It's just all about the filth today. JJ, I was going to use the expression "up and comer", but it would have worsened the situation.

posted by Howard_T at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2007

I'm all about the funny and the charming - I find it makes up for the complete lack of substance that lurks mere inches below the surface of my personality. I've perhaps done Padraig a disservice with regard to 1995. He certainly fulfilled any commitment he had to the tournament in terms of attending the post game formalities, my point was more that while other finalists (winners and losers) have gone on in previous years to further their own legendary status by then getting walloped afterwards, Harrington broke the typical mould of an Irish "sportsman" - i.e., he actually wanted to win rather than finish a glorious (drunken) second, and he realised how much work would be needed to make that happen. Reminds me a bit of his countryman.

posted by JJ at 10:49 AM on July 25, 2007

Reminds me a bit of his countryman. What, did he tell the first place finisher he could shove the North of Ireland Championship trophy "up his bollocks"?

posted by holden at 11:32 AM on July 25, 2007

I really hope not - it's some size of a lump of silverware - definitely not something one would enjoy shoved up one's bollocks (whatever the fuck that even means).

posted by JJ at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2007

definitely not something one would enjoy shoved up one's bollocks (whatever the fuck that even means) I recall hearing some delightfully dry British commentator at the time saying, ". . . and then, in what appears to envisage an anatomical impossibility, Keane said that McCarthy could . . ."

posted by holden at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2007

*L* very good - and quite true. I like to think he was about to invite Mick to shove it up his arse for the second time in the same sentence. I therefore see the "bollocks" at the end as more of a muttered-to-himself kind of thing when he realises he's cornered himself linguistically. "You can shove it up your... bollocks."

posted by JJ at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2007

These are the kinds of questions grammar columns need answer if they want to keep kids interested. Bollocks are in your court, William Safire.

posted by yerfatma at 01:00 PM on July 25, 2007

I'm all about the funny and the charming - I find it makes up for the complete lack of substance that lurks mere inches below the surface of my personality. Excuse me, sir. I would like to buy your coat.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 02:24 PM on July 25, 2007

One last word for anyone still checking back - last time the the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hills (as it will be again next month) was in 1994. It was won then by Nick Price, who had won the Open the month before. Might history repeat itself and see the Irishman treat major wins like buses (you wait all day for one and then two come along at once)? He's 25 to 1 with most bookies. Might be worth an each way bet. Also, from my old man this morning: "I got an invite to go to have lunch with Padraig yesterday in Dublin in the Teasoich's - that doesn't look right - Bertie's office. I suppose there were about 50 people there, including the GUI alickadoos, a few press, members of Stackstown, IPGA people, ministers, civil servants and assorted hangers-on. It was very nice - photos taken etc - Padraig was in brilliant form - can't think why - and has the patience of Job. I asked his caddy Ronan when did he really think that they could win - he reckoned that was Saturday morning when he birdied the 1st hole - he said he'd never see Padraig look so relaxed and in control - and the next 34 holes were as good as it got. The 72nd hole was a bit scary though!"

posted by JJ at 05:20 AM on July 27, 2007

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