PEBBLE BEACH, California (AP) — Padraig Harrington has the silver claret jug from winning the British Open. What he doesn’t have is complacency from winning his first major and, strangely enough, the confidence he thought would come with his victory at Carnoustie.
The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will be only his third tournament in the last 10 weeks, although he is working harder than ever to refine and slightly retool his swing. The Irishman does that every year, and being a major champion didn’t change that.
“You would think winning a major would mellow you,” he said. “It’s done the opposite to me. It’s made me even more obsessive. There’s a huge incentive to push on. I don’t think I have that attitude of some guys who are trying to prove they deserved to win it. But I certainly have the attitude that I really want to win another.
“It would have been nice to chill out and take some of the glory of it all and be confident. But that’s not the way my system works.”
Harrington at the very least rivals Vijay Singh as the hardest-working man in golf, and this offseason was no exception. He believes that’s one reason he came down with shingles toward the end of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship three weeks ago.
He also was exhausted from giving so many interviews in Ireland toward the end of the year. He spent that time to reflect on his playoff victory at the British Open, but the start of 2008 had him looking forward.
What he realized was that a player shouldn’t truly appreciate winning a major until he retires.
“I would have thought it would have given me the confidence to be happy where I am,” he said. “It hasn’t at all. It only made me want to work harder. I had a swing that won a major, but there’s no element that wants to stay the same as the guy who won the major at Carnoustie, which is odd. I think that’s peculiar in my psyche.”
Then again, Harrington might be in good company.
He believes Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open by 15 shots at Pebble Beach in 2000 was as good as anyone could play. Still, it wasn’t long after Woods had captured his sixth major in nine starts that he began rebuilding his swing again.
“If he tried to stay still, it probably would have gone away. He had to try to keep working on it,” Harrington said. “I would say that as long as he’s doing something, he feels like he’s moving forward.
LAST CHANCE: Anthony Kim is skipping the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and taking his chances.
This is the final week before the world ranking sets the 64-man field for the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Ernie Els already has said he won’t be playing, so the top 65 will qualify.
Kim currently is at No. 64, the only player between Nos. 62 and 66 who is not competing this week. J.B. Holmes, who moved up to No. 62 with his victory in the FBR Open, Daniel Chopra (63) and Pat Perez (66) are at Pebble Beach, while Brendan Jones of Australia (65) is playing in India on the European Tour. Simon Dyson (70) also is playing in India.
NICKLAUS AT AUGUSTA: Jack Nicklaus might be playing at the Masters for the next decade or two — in the Par 3 Tournament.
“I got into that a couple of years ago, and my son, Jack, said, ‘Oh, dad, you’re going to play in the Par 3. How about having Charlie caddie for you? It would be a big thrill,”‘ Nicklaus said.
Charlie is his grandson, and the Golden Bear is a big believer in equal opportunity.
“Once I had one grandchild (as a caddie), I have 19 more, and I’ll have 20 more in another month,” Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus stopped playing the Masters in 2005, another reason he can play in the Par 3. The six-time champion conceded to being superstitious, well aware that no one ever won the Masters after winning the Par 3 Tournament.
He also said it cut into his preparations.
“You play a practice round on Wednesday, preparing yourself for a golf tournament,” he said. “And you go out and play on another golf course, another set of greens, and you’re spending energy when you should be resting for the start of the tournament.
“Do you spend a lot of energy? No, you don’t. Is it too much to ask the players to play? No, it’ s not too much. But in the days when I was competitive and felt like I had a chance, I had so much energy focused on wanting to win that golf tournament that it was a distraction for me and not something I wanted to do.”
HARD TO SEE: One of the most raucous victories for Tiger Woods came in October 2005 in the American Express Championship in San Francisco, when he rallied to catch John Daly and then beat him on the third hole of a playoff in a rock concert atmosphere.
Among those at Harding Park that week was the future No. 1 — in women’s golf.
And she bought a ticket.
It was the first time Lorena Ochoa said she saw Woods play in person, even if she couldn’t see much.
“I was very impressed,” Ochoa said. “I wanted to be close on every shot, but it’s impossible. I was trying to follow him so I could watch, but it was crazy out there.”
DIVOTS: Paul Azinger will announce his four captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup on Sept. 2 in New York, a day after the Deutsche Bank Championship and about two weeks before the Ryder Cup. … Since his first full season, Tiger Woods has won an official tournament overseas every year except 2003 and 2007. … Twelve of Phil Mickelson’s 32 victories have come at PGA Tour events using multiple courses — three at Pebble Beach, three at Torrey Pines, three at Tucson, two at the Bob Hope Classic and one at the Byron Nelson Championship.
STAT: Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton tied for 25th at the FBR Open, ending a streak of 38 consecutive PGA Tour events in which he failed to finish in the top 25.