Pádraig Harrington is set to have personal memorabilia on public display on both sides of the Atlantic. His elevation as the third Irish inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame comes after being honoured with the Harrington Room at Stackstown GC in March 2011.
“I hope the display will be along those lines,” he said. “A lot of family support is really what it represents; a lot of determination and quite a bit of mental fortitude.”
Judging by the displays accorded the other two Irish recipients, Joe Carr and Christy O’Connor Snr, it will be more modest than at Stackstown, where there are close on 200 items. Yet it remains a significant honour, especially with 51-year-old Harrington’s competitive career still very much active, even in regular events.
Of all the honours bestowed on him, this is the highest. It follows honorary life membership of the Royal and Ancient from September 2020. Carr was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, to be followed by O’Connor two years later, at a time when its headquarters was in St Augustine, Florida. It is to be moved to a new location in Pinehurst for next year’s ceremony.
Honorary fellowships and university doctorates acquired through his golfing prowess would allow Harrington to place a string of letters after his name. Yet he admitted: “I can’t use ones that I actually passed an exam for.”
The winner of three Major championships was 23 when he passed the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) test at Dublin Business College.
“That made me a certified accountant, but I never did my articles and wouldn’t be entitled to practise as a fully- fledged accountant until I have acquired about three years’ work experience.”
Meanwhile, the timing of this latest distinction carries the customary Harrington precision. His finest scoring run in the US came in the 2004 Players Championship, which he finished with six successive threes — par, birdie, birdie, eagle, par, birdie — for a closing 66.
Though a 12-footer found the target for a birdie on the last, it is significant in the context of today’s climax that the shot he remembers best was on the treacherous 17th.
“It remains with me because a really nice tee-shot flew about six yards longer than I wanted it. Though it just stayed on the top tier, I nearly holed the putt.”
With the possibility of a play-off with Adam Scott for the title, he prepared for sudden-death on the 17th. “I went to the range, took the exact compass reading of the 17th and practised hitting the exact same tee-shot off a tee-peg as my warm-up for the play-off,” he said. Which never materialised.
Harrington and Sandra Palmer, along with the late Johnny Farrell, Beverly Hanson, Tom Weiskopf and the 13 founders of the LPGA, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the week of the US Open in June 2024.