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But Dubliner just as excited and nervous about the possibility of winning his third Honda Classic title this week.
Padraig Harrington is one of 12 finalists for the 2024 Hall of Fame induction class, but he’s just as excited and nervous about the possibility of winning his third Honda Classic title this week.
The Dubliner (51) was named yesterday alongside Tom Weiskopf, Dottie Pepper, Jim Furyk, Cristie Kerr, Sandra Palmer, Peter Dawson, Butch Harmon, Johnny Farrell, Beverly Hanson, Jay Sigel, and the seven remaining co-founders of the LPGA: Alice Bauer, Bettye Danoff, Helen Detweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Shirley Spork, Sally Sessions as a candidate for the Class of 2024.
The 12 finalists will be considered for admission into the World Golf Hall of Fame by a 20-member Selection Committee that will review the merits and qualifications of each finalist and ultimately announce their decision on March 6.
“When you look down through the names, you'd hope all of them get into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” Harrington said. “Everybody on that list is very deserving.
“I'd like it to be me for sure, but I look at another 19 very deserving candidates, and it's a pity some of us are going to be disappointed at the end of it, but hopefully, as I said, they're all deserving, and hopefully it works out for us all.”
Harrington is bidding to join an exclusive list of players to win on the PGA Tour after the age of 50 and follow in the footsteps of Craig Stadler, Fred Funk, Phil Mickelson, John Barnum, Jim Barnes, Davis Love III, Art Wall, and Sam Snead, who remains the oldest having won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at 52 years, ten months and eight days.
If he wins on Sunday at 51 years, 5 months, 26 days, he will be the third oldest winner on the PGA Tour after Wall (51 years, 7 months, 10 days) and Snead, pushing Love III (51 years, 4 months, 10 days old) into fourth.
“I'm feeling good about my game,” said Harrington, who was tied second behind Bernhard Langer in last week’s Chubb Classic on the PGA Tour Champions.
“It is interesting, you do come into a week like this and you do get a little bit anxious, a little bit stressed because it's like it's a one-off week, and I think I'm playing great and I'm so desperate to come out here and play great, and yet obviously that's not the way you play great.
“I've got to play like it's just any other week on the Champions Tour.
“My game has really gone up on the Champions Tour because I'm obviously a big fish in a small pond. It's a little bit more relaxed, and it's let the good stuff come out.
“Clearly that's what I want to keep doing when I come back to the regular tour, but it's tough in the sense that you're wanting so much to show that form out here, and it's like a one-off.
“It's like a European coming over here for one week or like somebody getting an invite, as I have an invite this week, but it's like a one-off invite; you tend to put a little bit too much emphasis on it.
“I have to be wary of that this week, to just try and play like I play on the Champions Tour and let it happen.”
He plays with Ryder Cup captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson in the Honda Classic but insists the European skipper has a good idea of the backbone of his team for Rome despite the uncertainty over the availability of the LIV Golf rebels due to the current legal dispute with the DP World Tour.
“I think it does (make it difficult for Luke),” Harrington said. “But I think saying he has no idea, either, he has a fair idea who's making up the backbone of his team, and he definitely has a good idea of who else is challenging.
“Whether you're some of these LIV players, it's a longshot for them to make the team, qualification -- like I don't know what -- nobody knows at this moment whether they'll be eligible to play or not, but it's a longshot.
“It's a pretty tough team to qualify to get into, so unless you play a substantial amount of qualifying events, it's very hard to make the team.
“I just think it's probably a little clearer to Luke when he's looking at his potentials and looking at the stats and who's playing well and who's not.
“It's probably a little clearer to him than it is to the public who are maybe hopeful that some player is going to make the team, but when you look at the reality of it, well, it's probably not going to likely happen.
“I don't think it's as big a deal for Luke as maybe an outsider looking in would think. When you're on the inside, you can see the team is shaping up.”
The reigning US Senior Open champion, Harrington points to his improved mental game as the key to his success on the seniors tour last year and believes his renewed enthusiasm for the game has come about because he is in contention most weeks.
Recalling the joy of seeing Arnold Palmer enthuse about his game at the age of 70, Harrington said: “There he was, 70 years of age, ‘I've found it, I have it,’ the buzz he gets.
“You know, maybe I'm drawn to that so much because of the fact that that's why I play golf, as well.
“I get up every morning with the hope and the joy that it's just going to all fall into place and I'll have it, and there was Arnold at 70 years of age in the same boat.
“It was fabulous to see on TV that somebody could have that love and enthusiasm for the game of golf, knowing that having gone through his experiences, the whole game, that he's still going at 70 years of age and loving it, what more could you ask for.”
As the media officer expressed the hope he’d see Harrington for the winner’s interview on Sunday, Harrington said: “That would be nice. Somebody actually said to me, I hope you win it this week but not on Monday. And I'm going, Monday is just fine. I'll take the win anytime.”