A relaxed Harrington ready to take on Firestone

Mike Popovich

Padraig Harrington felt a lot different after winning the British Open a second time.

The 36-year-old Irishman survived a double bogey on the final hole last year to beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff. As Harrington approached the 18th green at Royal Birkdale with a comfortable lead two weeks ago, he savored the moment.

“I was trying to take it in, soak it up,” said Harrington, the second-highest ranked golfer in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, which begins Thursday at the Firestone Country Club South Course.

“You’re never going to get these opportunities, to know that you’ve won the Open.

“It’s definitely a bigger high to hole a putt on the last hole to win. There wasn’t that excitement. But there’s the satisfaction, the deep sense of satisfaction to be able to enjoy the laud and the cheers as you come down the 18th.”

Harrington overcame a wrist injury to win by four strokes over Ian Poulter. A 4-under-par 32 on the back nine saw him become only the second repeat winner at the British Open in the last 25 years and 16th overall.

“I think anybody who played my back nine on Sunday could have won the Open,” Harrington said. “I went and did it, and that gives me tremendous confidence. I’m really chuffed that I put myself in position that I’ve always talked about and delivered.

“The actual nine holes, I look back and realize now, I think I had seven birdie putts and two eagle putts, which is a little bit unlike me. Normally I throw in a few difficult chips shots that I play well. So the consistency on the back nine was excellent.”

Harrington hopes the way he finishes the season is not a repeat of 2007.

Last season went downhill after the Open victory.

He came in 14th at the Bridgestone Invitational, his highest finish at Firestone Country Club since 1999. But Harrington fell to 42nd at the PGA Championship and missed the cut Deutsche Bank Championship. He also had a couple of illnesses.

Having won a second major may be the difference this time.

“Since Birkdale, I’ve definitely been more disciplined than last year,” Harrington said. “I think my first major was more for everybody who supported me, especially at home in Ireland. There’s so many people who have lived my career, both the highs and lows. And every time I finished second, it was tough to take for them. There’s no question I felt I needed to give back more with that win.

“The second win is definitely more for me. It’s definitely more about me moving on in my career, about my improving as a player.”

Harrington took last week off physically and mentally, although he still practiced every day. He was at Firestone practicing Monday, a day before the practice rounds got under way.

“I’m not the guy who can fly in on a Wednesday evening, not play his practice rounds, not do the right things and all of a sudden have a good week,” Harrington said. “I’m the guy that has to turn up and do the right things. I know if I want to play good golf, I’ve got to do the same things I do every week and be prepared.

“I’ve never been a golfer who’s played with confidence. I’ve always been a better player playing with fear. It’s strange that way, but I’ve got to motivate myself every week and in some ways find a little incentive to push me on.”

Contact Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or


WHERE: Firestone Country Club, Akron

PURSE: $8 million; $1.35 million to champion


FORMAT: Four-day, 72-hole stroke-play competition; no cut

2007 CHAMPION: Tiger Woods




7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Gates open to public

8:30 a.m.  First round of competition

2 to 6 p.m.  The Golf Channel broadcast


7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Gates open to public

8:30 a.m.  Second round of competition

2 to 6 p.m.  The Golf Channel broadcast


7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Gates open to public

8 a.m.  Third round of competition

2 to 6 p.m.  CBS broadcast


7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Gates open to public

8 a.m.  Final round of competition

2 to 6 p.m.  CBS broadcast