Sergio Faces Greatest Challenge

As young Patrick Harrington asked his daddy if he could put ladybirds in the Claret Jug he had no idea that eyes of the world were on him.

But as daddy celebrated, one man knew only too well that he had strode onto a global stage and blown his lines. Sergio Garcia looked like he wanted to put the ashes of his dreams inside that famous trophy. And then throw it into the Barry Burn.

Afterwards Harrington spoke of the prospect of defeat, of being unsure if he could have played again. On the 72nd hole he had stared down the barrel of a “Van de Velde.” Somehow he had managed not to pull the trigger. If nothing else Harrington deserved every last rumble of applause, every last chorus of a rather slurred Molly Malone for the dogged determination that dragged him through his wobble into the water.

But, and whisper it in the clubhouses of Ireland, did the right man win? I respect and admire Harrington. I am genuinely delighted for him and hope he wins more majors. Still though I hear an evil voice whispering niggling doubts about what happened to European golf in that thrilling dénouement.

Before the Open began Colin Montgomerie spoke of the need for a European world beater to come along, win a major and open the floodgates for sustained European success. In short Monty was calling for another Seve.

For all his talent, his desire, his dedication, his charm, does Harrington fit the bill? Or is it the mercurial, frustrating, delightful, unpredictable Spanish Ryder Cup warrior that would be the more fitting heir to the great Ballesteros. Does Harrington, the highly skilled artisan have the spark to light a powder keg of European glory? Or would a flash of Sergio’s artistry have been more likely to begin a sustained period of major success – both for himself and for Europe?

Time will, of course, be the only measure of this theory. But how painful Harrington’s words must have been for Garcia. He had led for the majority of the tournament. Harrington thought he had blown it on the final hole. Most thought Garcia had won it by the time he teed off on day four. If Harrington had worried that he may never have recovered how does Garcia feel now? Another major, another chance. But, in the end, he wilted in the heat of the battle.

Where does Sergio go from here? Tiger Woods is not alone in feeling that Garcia should have won majors by now. But with each disappointment the final hurdle becomes harder to negotiate. Will it be easy to forget Carnoustie in 2007 the next time he leads a major?

Harrington has his place in history. Garcia must now prove he can forget and recover. If he can’t, then his own shot at immortality will be missed as surely as he missed that ten foot putt on the final hole.

Golf is a game of fine margins – when the chance comes, shaving the hole is no better than missing by a foot. Now is the time for Sergio to show that he will not be content with the career of a nearly man – few people remember the men that only shaved the hole when faced with the prospect of greatness.

2 Responses to “Sergio Faces Greatest Challenge”

  1. Lyall Davidson says:

    I beg to differ with John Richardson regarding Harrinton’s potential. I think he still has further to develop. I suspect that he suffers from an image issue when compared with Seve or Garcia and bizarre though it may seem, I think it’s got something to do with his rolling ploughman’s gait, his slightly bucktoothed half smile, his supreme ordinariness, his niceness. He’s the guy you’d like to have as a neighbour, to have a pint with, may be to have as a brother-in-law or cousin. It’s all too easy to be seduced into thinking that somebody that nice and ordinary can’t be all that competitive, compared with Seve or Garcia, who look like hungry tigers to Harrington’s friendly pussy cat. He’s certainly got the game, the question is, has he the determination to go further than being simply successful and very rich? I think that’s an open question and the exciting point about Harrington is that he sees no barriers he can’t take on and wants to have a go. Good luck to him!

  2. Interesting (and contentious) post.:smile:

    But In my humble opinion – exactly the right man won. And here are my reasons why.

    1. Garcia is an immense talent. We expect him to win purely because he seems to have been at it so long and so nearly won in 1999 at the PGA. He will win but he has to amend his attitude. Nobody who blames bunker rakers and how his ball bounces off flags is mature enough to win a Major. He is still very much a little boy in those matters and until he fully accepts responsibility for his own game he’ll not get the belief that is necessary to win.

    But be in no doubt that he will win. His ball striking is otherworldy and his short game not a million miles behind Seve. Now that he seems to have some control of his putter it really is only a matter of time.

    2. Harrington is a shining beacon of hope for general club golfers. He isn’t a talent to rival Garcia, Ballesteros or Seve but he is a very talented and hard working golfer who has finally clicked and gained the belief necessary to win a major. This is great for golf in general.

    3. Harrington deserved to win because he is the only golfer out there who has scored lower than Tiger in head to head competition. Golf needs Tiger but it also needs golfers who can stand up to him and not be afraid of him. Harrington has proved this time and time again and now has his belief up another notch as a result of winning a major. Just watch him go.

    4. Garcia collapses in front of Tiger. Often humiliatingly. Granted this might well have been improved if he had won this year but it again points to his immaturity. He needs to have a Bob Rotella working with him just like Harringto to once and for all sort his brain out. Maybe this loss will be the catalyst for that? Who knows? But if it is then it will surely be a great thing for golf.

    John Richardson

Leave a Reply