Saturday, April 29, 2017

Harrington: Masters champ Garcia was a 'sore loser'

While Padraig Harrington was happy to see Sergio Garcia join him in the club of major winners this past week at the Masters, he still recalls with great clarity how his one-time rival handled being on the other side of a major outcome.

Harrington and Garcia dueled for two of golf’s most coveted titles, with the Irishman coming out on top in a playoff at the Open in 2007 and again edging Garcia at the 2008 PGA Championship. Speaking to “Game On” on RTE 2fm in Ireland, Harrington made it clear that he and Garcia came from opposite sides of the spectrum and referenced an incident where Garcia was once seen on replay spitting into a hole after putting out.

“His is a very flamboyant game, everything comes easy. There were periods he never practiced,” Harrington said. “I worked at it, grinded it out, got the best of it. I’m very strong with the etiquette of the game, so I don’t tolerate people spitting in the hole, throwing their shoes or throwing golf clubs. That would be my attitude, and that would be quite clear from where I came from.”

Harrington specifically pointed to the playoff 10 years ago at Carnoustie as a tipping point, where Garcia missed a par putt to win on the 72nd hole and Harrington went on to claim his first of three major titles.

“I gave him every out I possibly could at the 2007 Open. I was as polite as I could, and as generous as I could be,” Harrington said. “But he was a very sore loser, and he continued to be a very sore loser. So clearly after that, we had a very sticky wicket I’d say. The Ryder Cup obviously improved it to no end. But look, we say hello to each other every day we meet, but it’s with gritted teeth, there’s no doubt about it.”

Harrington was on-site at Augusta National working for Sky Sports, and he said he felt happy for Garcia’s major breakthrough despite their previously rocky relationship.

“I was delighted to see the emotion on the 18th green,” he said. “Anybody watching that has got to feel for him and see, maybe I’m a bit harsh in the fact that I look at it and say, ‘Well, everything comes easy to Sergio.’ But clearly, it hasn’t come easy to him. It really hasn’t. And you could see in that moment in time that, you know, he probably paid his dues.”

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