SOUTHPORT, England--The fact that Padraig Harrington sprained his right
wrist probably was the best thing that happened to him last week en route to
winning his second straight British Open. That's what Bob Rotella,
Harrington's sport psychologist, would have you believe, even if it is with
the benefit of hindsight.
Standing beside the 18th green at Royal Birkdale moments after Harrington
finished a final-round 69 for a four-stroke victory, Rotella agreed with
the idea that the distraction of the injured wrist--suffered when Harrington
swung a club into an impact bag during a training session the previous
Saturday--allowed the 36-year-old Irishman to focus more on the process of
hitting good shots, even if it curtailed his pre-tournament practice
"He just decided to take it as a blessing," Rotella said after Harrington
learned it wasn't something that he could injure further by playing: " 'I'm
not going to over-practice. I'm not going to over-prepare. I'm not going to
get worn out in the practice days.' He really handled it beautifully."
"It was a great distraction for me," Harrington admited in his post-round
press conference. "It pushed everything about coming back to defend to the
side. It took a lot of pressure off me. It took a lot of stress off me."
Throughout the week, Harrington was in complete control of his emotions,
according to Rotella. "I was saying to him before, 'We can talk every night'--
and we did--'but you know what, you really understand what I want you to do.
There's nothing new.'
"He's so lost in the process, seeing the shot he wants," Rotella continued.
"He's absolutely got it clear in his head: 'My ball always goes where my
last thought is. If I can just get my last thought in the right place, I'm
wonderful.' He's prepared himself to win this week."
Though the injury kept Harrington's attention on his swing, the difficult weather
conditions kept him from thinking too much about the wrist.
"What happens is, you either dwell on the pain or you think about something
else," Rotella said. "I think he thought about the conditions. And you know,
he plays all the time in the wind. He knew he could handle this."