Padraig Harrington is winning more. He has one key thought as to why

Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington hits his tee shot last Sunday on the 17th hole at St. Andrews.

Getty Images

“So you’re not one for moral victories, right? Second place is not — is just …”

The reporter didn’t finish their question. Or maybe couldn’t. The nerve was struck with Padraig Harrington

Gerry McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Bill Murray, Rory McIlroy
Padraig Harrington played with amateurs for a week. He found 2 key takeaways
By: Nick Piastowski

These days, wins and Harrington are going together like the Irishman and a well-poured Guinness. He’s been on a run. Over the past four months, he’s played in eight events on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, and he’s been low man three times, which includes a win at the U.S. Senior Open. So that naturally turns the conversation with him to how he’s doing it all, and you can tell Harrington has spent time thinking about it, too. And essentially it’s this:

It’s a macro vs. micro thing, golf edition. 

“There’s no doubt I sharpened up a bit by being on top of the leaderboard a lot,” Harrington said Wednesday ahead of this week’s Furyk & Friends events on the Champions tour. “When you’re up there, you turn up at a PGA Tour event, you finish 20th, you’re six shots behind the lead. So you go home and you think to yourself, god, I’ve got to hit the ball better. You go start working on your technique and things like that.

“You turn up at a Champions Tour event and you lose the tournament and you’re two shots back say. You go, I just wasn’t good with my routine on that 14 tee shot that I missed, my short game isn’t quite as tight as it should be, I should have chipped and putted that hole. So you tend to, when you’re close to winning, you tend to focus on I suppose the finer details that get you playing well, whereas when you’re six, eight shots away from winning a tournament, it’s so vast that you start thinking, well, I’ve got to work on this first before I start working on my mental game.

“So I think being on the Champions Tour has helped me not realize, I always realized it, but it has helped me commit more to being — realizing that how I’m thinking is much more important than how I’m swinging a golf club.”

‘I’ve got a headache’: Padraig Harrington reveals his ‘two-pizza’ recovery dinner
By: Luke Kerr-Dineen

The process was simple — contend! And it wasn’t — contend! While conceivably all but one player in a tournament field could tie for second, folks will finish low. Then again, that’s why Harrington is playing his golf more now with the 50-and-over set as he recently crossed the age requirement. We don’t want to say it’s easier, but the courses are more forgiving and Rory McIlroy won’t be on a Champions tee sheet for another 17 years. 

Though that all raises another natural question. 

Does he now have the belief he can win again with the kids? Notably, the three-time major champion played in six PGA Tour events last season and made one cut, and he’s played in five DP World Tour events, and made four cuts, including last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. 

“I fully believe I’m going to go and, yeah, I did not — like just a boring average week last week,” Harrington said. “It was not like anything went — I played well on the tough days as I usually would, but physically I hit it further and I’m as good as I can be and what I’m finding is the Champions Tour has really helped me mentally. Really helped me.

Paul Casey of England and team Europe (L) and captain Padraig Harrington of Ireland and team Europe meet on the 17th green during Saturday Morning Foursome Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 25, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Why Padraig Harrington ‘strongly believes’ LIV commits should be allowed in majors
By: Jack Hirsh

“There’s an element of, as I described earlier on, I’m in contention so I’m hitting a lot more shots under pressure and feeling that intensity and I feel that’s really going to help my game.”

There’s that thought again. 

Still, maybe he’s found his home. And there’s nothing with that, either. 

A reporter asked him this: 

“Leave your major championships aside, but when you won out here, did you feel just as much a sense of satisfaction as winning a Tour event?”

“Winning is winning,” Harrington started. “We’re very fickle, golfers. Everything about is how we played our last round, how we played our last hole, how we played our last tournament, whatever way you want to look at it. Yeah, I just want to win.

“Like, honestly, I prefer — I’m not joking with this: I would prefer to win here than finish second at a PGA Tour event. You know, winning is winning, there’s something about it. OK, it’s a smaller pool out here and, you know, you can look at it like that, but the fact of the matter is putting yourself under pressure out there and having to hit the shots when people are watching when it counts is what’s exciting. No amount of — no amount of finishing top-10 and somebody patting me on the back will do. I couldn’t tell you when I — I wouldn’t remember a top-10, but I’ll remember a win out here on the Champions Tour.”

Padraig Harrington always has something to say.
Padraig Harrington Q&A: Why ‘funky swings’ work better in pro golf
By: Dylan Dethier

And that leads us back to the beginning. 

And how he’s been doing this all of late.

And moral victories. 

If you don’t want to scroll back to the top, we’ll type it again for you. 

“So you’re not one for moral victories, right? Second place is not — is just …”

You know the answer, but here’s Paddy. 

“Well, I had over 30 in my regular career, second places, he said. “You know, there were all sorts. Some I messed up, some I played great to finish second. You learn a lot. They can be bitter, there’s all sorts of things going on with those second places. I don’t count — obviously somebody else counted them up. I couldn’t tell you what my top finish is, I couldn’t tell you my finishes in the majors bar the three wins. I don’t — it doesn’t make any difference to me.

“Winning is winning and that’s it, there’s nothing else of any relevance. And it’s very bad for your golf to take satisfaction out of, which I often see somebody finishing 10th and they say ‘well done.’ I’m absolutely raging. If somebody tells me ‘well done’ for finishing 17th last week, I’m raging with them.”

Golf Magazine

Subscribe To The Magazine

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at