Nice guys finish first: Padraig's plan for more majors
The best man won the British Open this year. I can tell you this because I was with Padraig as he prepared for the Open by playing the Irish PGA Championship lst week. In even worse conditions than Birkdale, Padraig won by the same four stokes. Winning a major after hurting his hand during a practice drill last Saturday -- and not even getting to play practice rounds at Birkdale -- shows the mental toughness of a champion.
Padraig has no intention of becoming a British Open specialist. He's going after the other majors too. Great players always challenge themselves to get better, and Padraig has been working on a swing change that by his own admission will take two years to complete. It is all part of his plan to win other major championships. After his Open win at Carnoustie in 2007, he decided to work on stopping his slight lateral slide through impact and develop a more rotary motion with a more stable lower body.
These changes will allow him to release the club easier under pressure and give him the ability to hit a few more shots, which he will need to compete in every major. He has a team of specialists around him that is akin to a pit crew of a Formula One racing car, and it's working. He now has a second major win, and he's only halfway through his plan.
Even though his game is perfect for British Open links-type courses, this win takes him to another level of confidence. With his mental toughness, a short game as strong as any in the sport and an incredible level of fitness, Padraig is around to stay. He has to be looked at as a serious contender in every major championship to come. (Photo: John Biever/SI)
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