The golf notebook …
AKRON, Ohio ó Padraig Harrington had to play 27 holes in the final round at Oakland Hills last year when he won the PGA Championship. Then came the hard part ó mustering enough strength to hoist the heaviest trophy among major championships.
“Forty-four pounds,” he said Tuesday.
The Masters is easy ó hold out arms, slip into a green jacket. Augusta National also gives its winners a replica sterling of the clubhouse. The U.S. Open trophy is relatively standard and classic in shape. The claret jug at the British Open is the smallest.
The Wanamaker Trophy awarded at the PGA Championship?
“I was genuinely shocked by the weight when I picked it up,” Harrington said. “The only trophy that would compare to that would be the old World Cup trophy, but they don’t make them like they used to when it comes to trophies. That is certainly one of the great trophies.”
Not much attention is paid to the weight of a trophy, although it was odd in 2004 to see Vijay Singh, the mighty Fijian, struggle ever so slightly when he won at Whistling Straits.
Remember, major champions often pose for some 10 minutes with the trophy for various photographers.
“Every time I switch sides, people think you’re switching sides because you’re showing your sponsor,” Harrington said, alluding to corporate logos on his shirt. “But no, I’m resting.”
Maybe the best measure of its size is what the Irishman did with it when he got home.
“I did manage to get my baby son into the trophy, and got a picture of that,” Harrington said. “We fit him into it. He was about 10 months old at the time. He’s actually in the trophy.”
Harrington said the best thing about such a heavy trophy is that everyone who lifts it will never forget it.
RANKING TIGER: Tiger Woods has never played on the Nationwide Tour, although he had reason to feel like he did at the Buick Open. Going into the final round, only one of the 13 players within five shots of his lead was ranked inside the top 100 ó Ben Crane at No. 73.
Of his 69 victories on the PGA Tour, this one came against the weakest field based on the world ranking.
Woods received only 36 ranking points.
The only two tournaments in which he received fewer points for winning was the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand in 2000 (24 points) and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour in 2005 (34 points).
In his other three victories this year, Woods received 50 points at the AT&T National, 60 points at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 62 points at the Memorial.
WATNEY’S WORLD: Nick Watney has been lobbying Fred Couples over the last couple of weeks, and it has nothing to do with being at No. 14 in the Presidents Cup standings with two tournaments remaining before the top 10 qualify for the team.
Watney was the highest-ranked American (No. 34 this week) who accepted an offer to play in the World Cup in China over Thanksgiving week, and now all he has to do is find a partner.
His first choice is Couples, who won the event four times in the 1990s with Davis Love III as his partner.
Couples, the U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup, turns 50 in October yet still remains competitive. He had a chance to win the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and the Houston Open, both times finishing third. He is No. 86 in the world.
“He’s slow-playing me right now,” Watney said with a grin, referring to Couples not giving him an answer. “I think he’d be perfect for the event. He’s won like $80 million in the offseason.”
Ben Curtis and Brandt Snedeker represented the United States last year. It has been tough to find players because of the travel to China and giving up the Thanksgiving holiday.
Watney, who won the Buick Invitational, wasn’t about to turn down his chance.
“I grew up watching the World Cup,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to play.”
Now if he can just get Couples to join him. Both players work under swing coach Butch Harmon.
SERGIO’S SCHEDULE: The next two weeks might go a long way toward determining what Sergio Garcia does this fall.
The Spaniard has had an awful year on the PGA Tour, with his only top 10 at the U.S. Open. He is No. 121 in the FedEx Cup standings, and only the top 125 qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs that begin with The Barclays.
Garcia has played only 11 times on the PGA Tour this year and needs 15 events to maintain his membership. He is playing the Bridgestone Invitational this week, then the PGA Championship. Depending on how he does, he might need to add the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro to become eligible for the playoffs.
And if that doesn’t work out, Garcia might have to throw in a tournament from the Fall Series.
ALWAYS IMPROVING: Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington is renowned for tinkering with his swing. He is always trying to get better, and made it clear Tuesday that he would go to great lengths ó any length ó to improve.
“If somebody told me I had to go to a deserted island for the next two years and I would improve my game, the hard part would be telling my wife,” Harrington said. “Because that is what I would do. That’s always been my makeup. If I thought that was the way to improve my game, that’s what I would be doing.”
Then came one more gem.
“And the hard part for my wife would be telling the kids that we’re moving.”
DIVOTS: The PGA Championship released its field for next week at Hazeltine. It did not offer an exemption to Minnesota-native Tim Herron, who is No. 220 in the world ranking. Herron currently is the eighth alternate. … While overnight TV ratings for the Buick Open were up 167 percent from a year ago, that wasn’t the only big difference. Buick promotions manager Larry Peck said the Sunday gate was up 900 percent from the previous year. … Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, did not have a top 10 in any of the four majors.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 80 players at the Bridgestone Invitational, 33 PGA Tour members have not won this year.
FINAL WORD: “You learn a lot more when you’re losing.” ó Padraig Harrington, winless since the PGA Championship.
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