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Sweating it out in his near-misses in previous majors actually helped Padraig Harrington gain confidence. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Sweating it out in his near-misses in previous majors actually helped Padraig Harrington gain confidence. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Line between glory and failure is thin, Harrington knows

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Having lost a U.S. Open and then won an Open Championship by the narrowest of margins, Padraig Harrington will tee off at Southern Hills more appreciative than most of how easily major success can become failure, and vice-versa.

TULSA, Okla. (PA) -- Padraig Harrington heads to the final major of the year well aware of the narrow margins that have transformed his career.

The Irishman joined golf's list of major winners with victory at the Open Championship at Carnoustie last month, but it was nearly very different.

Harrington came close to blowing his chances after twice hitting into the water on his 72nd hole, but his chief rival Sergio Garcia then bogeyed the final hole to send the pair into a playoff. Garcia had had a 10-foot putt to win the title on that 72nd hole, but it lipped out to give Harrington a lifeline that he grasped to take the Claret Jug.

"I always reflect on the difference between success and failure because it is such a fine line, and sometimes not in your control," Harrington said at Southern Hills. "Obviously, if Sergio's putt dropped on 18 -- that had nothing to do with me -- it would have been a different story."

That different story could have involved having to explain away one of the more spectacular collapses in major championship history instead of telling tales of parties. Yet Harrington has not had to dwell on the fact his finish at Carnoustie was almost a catastrophe and has put it down to experience.

"I'm long enough in this game to realize that I've had many a day that's gone right for me and many a day that hasn't gone right for me," Harrington said. "I would be trying to explain the loss, and it would be very hard, but I would be explaining it in the exact same way as I'm trying to explain the win."

Harrington has seen the story from the other perspective, however, after missing out at the U.S. Open last year. Three closing pars would have been enough for victory at Winged Foot, but instead three bogeys cost him. He believes he benefited from the experience.

"I had a great chance at Winged Foot," he said. "I had three pars to win the U.S. Open. Sounds very easy, but I walked away from that exceptionally confident because of how comfortable I felt in that position.

"Okay, I know I made three bogeys and you can think, looking from the outside, that was a really poor finish," he explained. "But I know how I felt in my head and I know how I was going about things and I knew from there, especially that event, that I could definitely win a major. So by losing that one, I knew I could win another."

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And he has, becoming the first European to win a major since 1999, when Paul Lawrie of Scotland also won at Carnoustie. Now Harrington has an opportunity to add another major title, and he insists his Open success will not cloud his thoughts.

"At this stage I've got to believe I have more of a chance and I'll convince myself of that by Thursday morning," Harrington said. "I'm trying to prepare the same way as I prepared for the Open and I'm really looking forward to the event.

"I'm quite happy with how things are going and expectant of what's going to happen," he added. "The Open Championship, it's a nice memory, but it's on the back burner for the moment until this event finishes."

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