BOCA RATON, Fla. — At one time, Padraig Harrington would have arrived at the newly designed Old Course at Broken Sound early Monday morning.
The Irishman would have started rolling putts. Hitting chip shots. Measuring and documenting every slope on every green.
Heck, this is a man who once took a level with him during a practice round at Augusta National before the Masters, pulling it out on most every green. That round took him more than six hours to play.
But that was the younger, more intense Padraig Harrington. What we saw for three rounds at the TimberTech Championship on the PGA Tour Champions was a more relaxed, though no less competitive, Padraig Harrington who understands exactly what golf is about at the age of 52.
“I’m too old now for all that,” he said after running away with the TimberTech Championship with a final round 64 Sunday to finish seven shots ahead of hometown favorite Bernhard Langer and Charlie Wi.
“When I was a kid, I would have come out and played 54 holes of practice and hit every putt, every chip. This is the Champions tour. I can’t keep up that pace. You can’t do the work you do as a kid. I can’t go out there and roll putts on every green and do all that. My brain would be fried by the end of the week.”
Still, Harrington rolled enough putts, along with bombing enough drives and hitting enough greens, to turn this into a laugher. He started with a one-shot lead and led by two over Langer after putting his drive into the water for a bogey on No. 9. Then, he started stretching the lead on No. 11 and it just kept getting wider.
Harrington said the wake-up call at No. 9 forced him to “batten down the hatches.”
“From there on I was very focused … staying steady, making sure I didn’t make any mistakes,” he said. “I was just making sure to make my par as making Bernhard have to came at me.”
And when it ended, he had matched Wi for the low round of the day, to finish the tournament 16-under 197. He remains third entering the final event of the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs this week at the Phoenix Country Club, behind Steve Stricker and Langer. Harrington, though, is playing for runner-up with Stricker having already clinched the championship.
The Old Course was recently renovated, which meant any institutional knowledge on most holes was useless. That took away any advantage Langer had from living in the area for more than 35 years.
And if Harrington had any second thoughts about not…