PADRAIG HARRINGTON said in January that he expected to win more majors. Now he is even more convinced.
It was not looking good for the first European to win back-to-back Open titles since 1906 when he slumped all the way to 96th in the world.
But after an eighth-place finish in The Masters – his best performance in a major since he won the USPGA four years ago – Harrington is up to 80th and hoping it is just the start of a big comeback.
Even double-bogeying the last did not change things in his mind. His chance of victory had gone by then.
“I was very composed and relaxed,” said the 40-year-old Dubliner.
“Doubling the last cost me money, but nothing else.
“Maybe one day coming down 18 I will have to hole that putt that I three-putted and I will know it is quick.
“I was on an even keel all day – there were no highs or lows in my round at all.
“I'd be happy if I was like that every Sunday at a major because you are going to win plenty playing golf like that.
“I feel like I was in a very comfortable place. I haven't been putting well and I putted really well.
“I am going to take a lot of comfort away from this – there were a lot of good things.
“I was very comfortable on the golf course this week, which bodes well for future Masters.
“I feel like I found a very nice place mentally. There's good things in me going forward.
“I've won three majors, but that's the most comfortable I've felt through 18 holes in the last round of a major.
“I feel I'm on an upswing, an upturn in my game. So yeah, I'm looking forward to going forward.”
The signs had been coming. In February Harrington came seventh at Pebble Beach and last month he began the Transitions Championship in Florida with a 61 – the lowest round of his career.
He is staying on in the States for this week's tournament at Hilton Head in South Carolina and with number one Luke Donald the only member of the world's top 10 in the field it is a golden opportunity to make further progress.
Not just up the world rankings, but up the Ryder Cup points table.
Harrington is only 30th on the European Tour list and 26th on the world points list. The top five in each qualify automatically for Jose Maria Olazabal's side at the end of August and he then adds two wild cards.
The Irishman received one of those from Colin Montgomerie two years ago, but knows that competition is going to be even tougher this time.
As things stand, Ian Poulter – seventh at Augusta – Paul Casey, Simon Dyson, Martin Laird, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez are also among those outside the top 10.