/ 23 July 2007

Ireland hails hero Harrington

Ireland hailed its new sporting hero, golfer Padraig Harrington, on Monday after he won the British Open by one shot at Carnoustie in a thrilling play-off with Spain’s Sergio Garcia.

”Harrington’s victory — the first by an Irish player since Fred Daly’s at Hoylake in 1947 — was the stuff of supreme sporting drama,” said the Irish Times.

The win moved Harrington (35) up to sixth in the world rankings and the press heaped praise on his achievement.

The Irish Independent ran the headlines ”Harrington seizes destiny” and ”Padraig opens history books and hits bookies for â,¬8-million.”

It said that the 28-1 shot had cleaned out bookmakers by sweeping to victory, earning one punter who bet â,¬10 000 at 20-1 â,¬200 000.

”HALLELUJAH for Harrington!” the Independent added, ”this is just the start as hard-working hero gets ultimate reward.

”That we should be alive today to witness Irish sporting history made by a modest hero from Dublin is simply wonderful.

”The Holy Grail that was the British Open, the oldest and most respected golf Major of them all, has been brought back to Ireland for the first time in 60 years.”

A big victory celebration is being prepared at Harrington’s home club, Stackstown in Rathfarnham at the foot of the Dublin mountains.

While it is Harrington’s moment, his wife, Caroline, who is expecting the couple’s second child in December, and their three-year-old son Paddy also garnered their share of attention.

The Examiner newspaper said one of the few Irish people at the Scottish course who took the whole victory in his stride was young Paddy.

”Before his father even got off the winning green, the youngster ran up for a second time, hugged his dad and eyeing the trophy said: ‘Can we put ladybirds in it?’

”Indeed we can,” said his beaming father. — Sapa-AFP