Alex Massie

Congratulations Padraig!

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So the old Claret Jug is staying in Ireland for another year. The list of people since 1945 who have retained the Open Championship is: Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods. You can add Padraig Harrington to that list. A remarkable feat, achieved in testing conditions on two of the toughest courses (Carnoustie and Birkdale) on the Open rotation. His five wood from 272 yards to within five feet at the 17th was a shot of exquisite class, worthy of winning a championship.

Considering that he contemplated withdrawing from the Open on account of a wrist injury, Harrington's feat is all the more remarkable. What with Tiger's triumph at Torrey Pines, the old maxim of "beware the injured golfer" has never been more apposite.

I supopse some will say that Greg Norman "choked" once again. But that's a needlessly harsh judgement. Yes, he let another 54 hole lead slip but, at 53, this was a different, sui generis, case. In any case, Harrington played so well that Norman would have had to play equally well to have prevailed. And, after three spectacularly good rounds, it was not entirely surprising that he might regress towards the mean today. Instead, as I suggested earlier today, we should celebrate what he achieved this week, not dwell upon the fact that he came up just a little bit short.

But what a great tournament! A reminder that, when played in testing conditions, there's nothing better, in golfing terms, than links golf.

UPDATE: Fairness demands that I acknowlege that Gene Wochiekowski and Damon Hack have each written good pieces today. Norman's effort was terrific and it's good to see that each absolves him of "choking" on this occasion.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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