Padraig Harrington reveals source of his ‘second lease on life’

Padraig Harrington watches a drive druing the 2023 Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Padraig Harrington dished out more golf wisdom on Thursday at the Chubb Classic.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While much of the golf world’s attention is focused on the Genesis Invitational, where Tiger Woods is making his PGA Tour return, the PGA Tour Champions regulars are in Florida for the Chubb Classic.

And on Thursday at host course Tiburon Golf Club, a three-time major champion whose press conferences never lack for color talked to reporters: Padraig Harrington.

Harrington is one of the best and wisest talkers in the game, and he regularly dishes out golf tips, life advice and honest opinions when behind the mic, both on the senior tour and the big show.

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Thursday at the Chubb Classic was no different.

All that’s needed to incite a thoughtful exposition from Harrington is a simple question, which on Thursday was this: “When you’ve done this as long as you have and you’re starting a new season, where do you find the fire?”

Harrington’s answer in a nutshell: playing the PGA Tour Champions has kept his competitive interest alive. But Harrington rarely speaks in short form, so his entire answer is worth reading.

First, Harrington noted that most of his peers “burned out” long ago, and at one point he had nearly reached that point.

“Yeah, well, you know, I think most players of my year lasted about 15 years before they burned out,” Harrington said. “Might have played for about 20, but the last five years, certainly I would’ve hit a wall. You know, around 2016, that would’ve been about 20 years, and I certainly was burned out.”

But the PGA Tour Champions, as Harrington explained, offered him a “second lease on life” and an avenue to avoid the burnout that has ended many a career early.

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.
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“I think the Champions Tour has really helped me. When you come back out here you are competing to win. You’re up there in contention. The idea the winning piques your interest and you’re into it,” Harrington said. “I think if I was out there struggling to make putts I think I would quickly lose interest. The Champions Tour really does do the job it’s meant to do. It gives you a second lease on life.”

Harrington added that competing on the PGA Tour Champions even helped get him through a pneumonia bout this winter. An infamous swing tinkerer, he continued working on his game through his sickness, he said, with the search for an elusive swing “secret” keeping his fire burning.

It’s a quality he once noticed in another golf legend who spent time on the Champions Tour, Arnold Palmer.

“I remember watching an interview with Arnold Palmer, Champions Tour event,” Harrington said. “I would say he was close to 70 at the time. Came in and shot a low one, had beaten his age. He was like absolutely blushing with excitement in the interview saying he had found the secret.”

It’s this aspect of golf, the never-ending quest to improve, that keeps Harrington, Tour pros and millions of amateurs grinding away at their games, as Harrington shared on Thursday:

“Anybody that plays the game long enough, we all dream of finding the secret. We take the reality that we know that ain’t ever happening. You always think, maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and I have that one key thought that I believe in and trust and it’ll never go wrong.”

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham Editor

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