Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Padraig Harrington on mindset, party tabs 

and why loneliness can be a factor in USA

Padraig Harrington, pictured at the 2016 Scottish Open.
Padraig Harrington, pictured at the 2016 Scottish Open. (Getty Images)
It’s easy to forget that professional golfers are real human beings with real thoughts running through their heads. Luckily, guys like Padraig Harrington are candid enough to share real insight on those thoughts from time to time.
The three-time major winner joined Irish talk show host Ray D’Arcy last week and said reading sports psychologist Dave Aldred’s book, ‘The Pressure Principle,’ helped keep him on an even-keel to win the Portugal Masters last month.
“The language, what you’re saying to yourself out there on the golf course, try not to make things so absolute,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of times golfers will think, ‘If I hit a golf ball out of bounds, I can’t win.’ That’s not true. … I hit four golf balls in the water (in Portugal). I three-putted three times. … I was very mindful of how I was stating things (in my head). What I saw from that was my physical posture change.”
That speaks to an overall mindset Harrington tries to maintain throughout every round.
“You don’t have to act like you own the place, but you’ve got to walk around and in your head, you’ve got to believe you’re the man,” Harrington said. “Your ego has to be there. … You don’t necessarily have to be obnoxious about it, but you’ve got to believe in yourself.”
You also have to change the way you think about things like luck.
“You have to remind yourself to smile. You have to remind yourself you’re lucky. If I hit it down the fairway on the first hole and it went in a divot, I could go, ‘Wow. I’m lucky it’s in a divot on the first hole and not the 72nd hole.’ … But you have to work on it.”
Anyone who has ever picked up a club knows that’s much easier said than done, but it’s a unique and interesting way to consider those bad breaks on the course. And in those pressure-packed moments, like Harrington’s 3-and-a-half foot putt to win the tournament, sometimes you just have to fake it.
“Going up to it, the greens were bumpy,” Harrington said. “They’re soft, lots of heel prints, I’m the last guy to putt on it. It’s downhill, it’s outside the hole. Everything you wouldn’t want from a short putt. Of course you don’t want to miss it in the spotlight, but I kept telling myself, ‘Every time I watch a guy win in a tournament he taps that putt in on 18 from 3-and-a-half feet.’ And I just had it in my head, ‘Well, that’s what’s going to happen today.’”
COSTLY WIN: That putt netted Harrington just over $360,000, but might have come with a steep price. Harrington explained that every year the Irish players and caddies on tour have a Christmas party, and whoever had the best year has to pick up the tab. Shane Lowry looked like he’d be on the hook after a second-place finish in the U.S. Open at Oakmont and was planning to host it in Las Vegas, but the two agreed that Harrington’s win in Portugal put him over the top.
“(Lowry said) ‘Well, that’s good, Padraig. If I was thinking of Vegas, what are you going to come up with?’”
Rory McIlroy is the top Irishman on tour, of course, but it sounds like he generally skips the holiday festivities.
“I’m going to work really hard on trying to get Rory to turn up, cause he’s obviously had a better year than the rest of us,” Harrington said.
By the way, this party sounds legendary.
LONELY LIFE: Going back to the point of pro golfers as human beings rather than par-saving robots, Harrington had some really interesting comments on every-day life for European players on the PGA Tour. Sure, they’re competing for purses worth several million and playing the best golf courses in the world each week. But there is another side to tour life after the sun has set and the fans have gone home.
Harrington said he goes out to dinner four or five times a week with other Irishmen and thinks it’s important to have that communication and familiarity, because the alternative can be pretty bleak at times.
Said Harrington: “Most Europeans who have struggled in the U.S. have struggled because they’re lonely over there. It’s a very lonely place. … Everything’s so convenient. In the States you can get in your car, drive down the road, you can see a restaurant and you know exactly what experience you’re going to have in that restaurant and for what price.
" Everything about it you know, whereas in Europe, you better ask somebody where there’s a good restaurant because you could get a bad restaurant. You have to talk to people. We share cars in Europe. You stay in lovely, different hotels.
"In the States you could actually stay every week in the exact same room. Pick a Marriott, you could stay in the exact same-looking room every week of the year. It might be convenient, but it actually ends up as being very lonely.”
This is why we listen when Harrington speaks. He’s one of the funnier guys in professional golf, but throughout the laugh track there is usually some really interesting perspective from a real human being.



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