Padraig Harrington Is Ireland's Greatest Sportsman

Andrew BarrySenior Analyst IAugust 11, 2008

We gave our football team an open top bus parade after USA 94, we celebrated Michelle Smith after four golds in Atlanta (all of which were stripped) but Padraig Harrington is unlikely to appear in Dublin City upon a bus any time soon.

In a way, it's a shame that Padraig will never get to hear what Dublin thinks of him; we will never get to shout and scream our admiration of the man.

Yet the man who has won three majors would not accept such an opening; he's too humble. That is the factor that has won Padraig his three majors thus far.

What was it Nick Faldo once said about nice guys always failing, and wasn't it sometime around Carnoustie? Well, 13 months later and Harrington has achieved something Faldo and any other European hasn't, won back-to-back majors. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

This is not a jibe at the great Tiger Woods, but while waiting for Stenson and Curtis to hole out, Padraig spent the guts of five minutes signing autographs for the wowed Oakland faithful. I don't think I have ever seen Woods do that in all of his 14 titles.

Exactly 13 months ago, America's grip on the majors was strong, but almost single-handedly Padraig has reversed the odds dramatically. As Sergio Garcia and Padraig went head-to-head and only the slightest mention of Ben Curtis, it was suddenly clear to me. Americans can't really win majors if their name isn't Tiger Woods.

Forget Woods, Mickelson, Furyk and the rest. Today is Harrington's day, he has made his family, team, and whole country proud to boast we have the unofficial second-best golfer in the world. Today it feels great to be Irish, and long may that continue.

Padraig Harrington, USPGA and British Open Champion, Leading European Player, Irish. Sounds pretty good, but so does everything connected to Harrington on this Emerald Isle.