‘I’m not aware of it’: Padraig Harrington makes bold claim about aging

Padraig Harrington of Ireland reacts on the 18th green during Day Three of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 22, 2023 in Hoylake, England.

Padraig Harrington says his age is "irrelevant."

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At 51 years young, Padraig Harrington was the oldest player to make the cut at this week’s Open Championship.

But Harrington had no idea until a reporter told him so after his third round.

“The beauty is that I’m not aware of it,” Harrington said.

Harrington has had somewhat of a second wind in his career over the past two years. He’s seventh on the PGA Tour Champions Charles Schwab Cup standings after collecting one win on the over-50 circuit, but that doesn’t begin to tell the full story.

While his performance on the senior tour is down from 2022, when he won four times in his first full season, he’s actually played in more regular PGA and DP World Tour tournaments (10) than he has PGA Tour Champions events (8).

What’s more, Harrington can say something Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and many others can’t: He has not missed a cut in 2023.

All of this after Harrington made “only” $434,000 in 38 events on the PGA Tour from 2016-19 in his late 40s. In eight PGA Tour starts this season, he already has amassed $489,782.

Sure, it’s one thing just to play and make the cut in events with players who were born after Harrington’s first DP World Tour win in 1996, but he actually has contended in a couple of them, too. He was fourth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and tied for 10th at the Valero Texas Open in April.

Just last week at the Scottish Open, Harrington opened 67-66 before cooling to 70-74 on the weekend. But after the second round, he was tied for seventh with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

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Harrington is not the first player to play well in big-time events after turning 50; Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship at 50 only two years ago, and Davis Love III won at 51 on the PGA Tour in 2015. But Harrington may be the first player to say he’s completely ignoring his age.

“Completely irrelevant,” he said Saturday after signing for a two-over 73 at Royal Liverpool. “Yeah, no, I don’t think of age at all. Not in any shape or form.”

Make no mistake, Harrington did not playing ceremoniously this week…or last week…or at the U.S. Open where he finished T27. He’s still got something to play for. He said at the Scottish Open that European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald reached out to him about the possibility of being a captain’s pick for Rome in September.

Harrington even skipped a senior major last week to play at Renaissance Club.

“I said, [my schedule] is going to be very clear,” Harrington said on Friday at the Scottish. “How I play in Scotland and how I play at the Open will determine everything … I know if I don’t perform these two weeks, it’s the end of that.” 

Ultimately, that long shot of a captain’s pick has grown longer after his finished T42 in Scotland and will begin the final round at Royal Liverpool at six over in a tie for 69th.

But that doesn’t mean his mindset is changing. He’ll head to Wales next week for the Senior Open, but then he’ll stay in Europe and keep playing on the DP World Tour.

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“It would seem a bigger deal to try and win a European event than a Champions Tour event,” he said.

Harrington isn’t the first player to stress the ball doesn’t know the age of — or anything else about — the player hitting it, but he might be the first to say it so confidently. Perhaps it’s the reason he’s played so solidly in his starts on the regular tours.

As Harrington spoke of his age-blindness Saturday, one reporter pushed back, saying, “That will change, by the way.”

To which Harrington said, “I think of it when I’m getting out of bed in the morning, but I don’t think of it in golfing terms. I’m trying to compete, and as I said, I feel I can.”

The conversation then shifted to how his putting is holding him back.

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