Harrington, despite poor 2011 season, confident he will win more majors

padraig harrington
Getty Images
Despite not winning in 15 months, Padraig Harrington took positives out of last season.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | 1:30 p.m.

Padraig Harrington, having fallen down to 89th in the world, still expects to win more majors in his career.

Not just hopes to, but expects to.

"That's a big, strong word, but I do -- yeah," the 40-year-old Dubliner said Wednesday at Fancourt, where his 2012 season starts at the Volvo Golf Champions -- a 35-man no-cut event reserved for last year's European Tour winners and anyone with 10 or more victories on the circuit.

"I didn't have a great year last year, but it doesn't worry me in the greater scheme of things because I know you just can't win them every year," he explained. "You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn -- and, like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once."

Three years ago, Harrington became the first European since 1906 to make a successful defense of the British Open, then a month later became the first European to win the PGA Championship since 1930. Last season, though, the best he did in the majors was 45th at the U.S. Open, and missed cuts at the Masters and Open accelerated his slump down the rankings.

"When you look at Nick Faldo, it took him 20-25 years (as a professional) to win six -- the most by any European (of modern times)," said Harrington. "I'm not foolish to believe that because I won one in 2007 and two in 2008 I should win three in 2009, or even another one.

"They don't come around that easy. Even in my era the greatest player since I've been a pro -- Tiger Woods -- has not won one a year," he added. "There have been plenty of years he has not won any.

"People have this idea that just because you play well and you win one you should be doing that every year," he said. "That's the hardest thing. It definitely puts a big burden on anybody who wins a major, it really does. There's a lot of expectation that goes with it."

Now 15 months on from his last tournament victory, Harrington has done a lot of analyzing things and still took positives out of last season.

"I sorted out a neck injury that plagued me for 10 years, then found something in my mental game and got to the bottom of something in my swing which had been annoying me for five years," he stated. "But the reality is that we are judged by our results -- I certainly do when I watch people playing sports -- and I have to accept that results last year were poor."

What he must have found particularly disappointing on realizing it was that on the PGA Tour he went backwards in every final round, whereas in 2008 he had gone forward every time.

With the world's top four of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer all deciding not to play this week -- they along with Woods will start in Abu Dhabi next week -- this week is a golden opportunity for Harrington to stop the slide and start climbing again.

With the Ryder Cup in mind as much as anything else, Harrington desperately wants to be back in the world's top 64 for next month's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the top 50 for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral two weeks later.

A win on Sunday will achieve the first of those, although the cut-off point for the Match Play is not for another three weeks.

Defending champion Paul Casey is another absentee, having dislocated his shoulder while snowboarding over the winter break. Harrington does not criticize the world No. 20 for taking to the slopes in Colorado.

"You wouldn't function as a person or a golfer if you don't live your life," he said. "Any accident is unfortunate and some people may think why take the risk, but if you sat in a hotel room or at home looking at four walls you wouldn't be a very good golfer. You have to live your life.

"I don't ski because I didn't grow up skiing. If I had, I would see no reason not to," he added. "I'm not going to take up a sport with inherent dangers, but you shouldn't stop doing the things you love doing."