The PGA Championship

PGA Championship Notebook

Soon-to-be-dad Harrington opts to play in PGA Championship instead of stay with wife; Tiger's driver dilemma; and Sergio likes Love

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Padraig Harrington didn't see the birth of his first child as a reason to skip the PGA Championship.

His wife's doctor agreed.

"As the doctor said, I wouldn't be much help in the delivery room," Harrington said, smiling, on Tuesday. "Hopefully, everything will be all right, regardless if I'm there or not."

Ninth in the current world rankings, Harrington left his wife, Caroline, behind at their home in Dublin, Ireland, to travel and compete at Oak Hill this week.

While his wife's due date is Monday, the day after the tournament's scheduled final round, Harrington noted that the doctor had informed the couple that the baby's arrival is expected to be late.

Calling it a difficult decision, Harrington elected to take the chance and travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

"I decided the worst thing was if I was sitting at home all the way through the PGA and nothing happened," Harrington said. "We are taking a slight chance, obviously, but that's got to be the way."

While Harrington will keep tabs with any developments, he's not sure if he would rush home should his wife goes into labor during the tournament.

"It's not guaranteed," Harrington said. "Obviously, if I get the call on Saturday and I'm doing well in the tournament, I'm going to hang around on Sunday. So I really can't make the decision until it happens."

Harrington's decision to potentially continue competing near the birth of his child is a bit of a departure from what others have considered.

Defending champion Rich Beem was intending to drop out before his wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy, on July 25.

Phil Mickelson planned to do the same during the 1999 U.S. Open. Mickelson finished second to the late Payne Stewart, a day before his first daughter was born.

------ DRIVER DEBATE: Tiger Woods doesn't mind discussing how comfortable he is going back to using his old driver. It's a stretch to ask him whether it's made life easier.

"Oh," Woods said, breaking into a wide grin and leaning forward in the direction of the person who asked the question. "It's sooooo much easier."

After pausing for the laughter to subside, Woods acknowledged experiencing some sentiment after switching from his Nike-made driver, which he used for 18 months, to his old Titleist 975D, which he used for about four years.

"It's like going back to an old putter that you feel good with," Woods said. "It's just hard to explain that when you go back to something that you are familiar with, and you've had success with -- you feel kind of nostalgic a little bit."

The switch came after Woods finished fourth at last month's British Open. With his old driver back in his bag, Woods finished second at this past month's Buick Open.

It wasn't an easy decision, considering Woods has a lucrative contract with Nike, and won nine events, including the Masters and U.S. Open last year, with its club.

"It's not something I found easy to do," Woods said. "I've tried numerous drivers to try to feel comfortable. The common denominator is sometimes you just need to change it up a little bit."

------ GARCIA FAVORS LOVE: Davis Love III has Sergio Garcia's vote in the tightly contested race to determine this year's player of the year.

After listing Mike Weir, Kenny Perry and Tiger Woods, Garcia said: "They're all good. But, I don't know, if I could pick one, I'll probably pick Davis."

Garcia is particularly impressed by how Love has played, winning four events, including last weekend's International, while also overcoming some personal troubles.

Besides dealing with recent questions of having marital problems, Love and his family have endured the suicide of his wife's brother-in-law this year.

"He's gone through some hard moments, as we all know, and that makes it tougher," Garcia said. "To come over those moments and play the level of game that he's played, that's pretty impressive."

Love has denied he's having marital problems and, following last weekend's victory, dedicated it to his wife Robin.

------ IN AND OUT: The odds are against Davis Love III winning this week. No one has won the week prior to a major championship and then won the major since Sandy Lyle in 1988 when he won the Greater Greensboro Open and the Masters in consecutive weeks. ... John Jacobs will move over to the PGA Tour this week to compete in the PGA Championship. It will be his first PGA Tour event since the 1989 Las Vegas Invitational. ... Don't think U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk is at a disadvantage because this is his first time playing Oak Hill. Furyk's edge might be caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan, who will be making the rounds for the fourth time on the course. Cowan spent 19 years working for Peter Jacobsen, who played at Oak Hill in the 1980 PGA Championship, the 1989 U.S. Open and the 1995 Ryder Cup.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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