A lot of agony with those choices, but also some really fun times which make it all worthwhile.
Padraig Harrington’s amazing win at Carnoustie which was the climax of one of the finest Open Championships in recent times, and once Justin (whom I taught at Robert May’s School) was out of the hunt there was only one man for me and that was the immensely talented and likable Irishman.
His acceptance speech told you all you needed to know about the man. Quiet and understated, yet confident and giving the plaudits to the unsung heroes that make the Open such a great event. The volunteers, the green staff and above all the fans.
Harrington came to my attention in the mid ‘Nineties when he broke through onto the European Tour lifting the Spanish Open in his first year and making his Ryder Cup debut in the ill feted Brookline Match of 1999, but he had gone on to be the nearly man so many times, thus when he found the notorious Burn on the 18th I had a sinking feeling….
I felt so sorry for Sergio Garcia. The guy has cohones, as his compatriots would say, as having led for much of the event he somehow overcame the potential implosion of losing three shots mid round, to end up in a play off as he lipped a putt on the 18th. I was sure it was down as the brilliant TV pictures showed the every contour of the eight footer but it stayed out and by such small margins greatness is won or lost.
But Padraig overcame his nerves the best in the playoff, despite missing a six footer on the third extra hole which would have killed Sergio’s hopes, and playing the last too conservatively. But by that stage the Spaniard was spent and it was a bogey that won the Jug in the end.
Somehow an appropriate, if not a particularly fitting end to a day of sublime golf, mixed with some shots that shattered hopes.
I was glad the usual suspects were absent from the top of the Leaderboard, making it an exciting and unexpected few hours of really gold quality competition which epitomised why sport is so great.
Some butt clenchers (in no particular order).
Kiwah Island Ryder Cup 1991. Langer’s putt (missed).
Ireland v Spain penalty shoot out 2002. (Lost).
Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal 26/05/1989.
Second Test V SA when the Lions clinched the series win against the defending World Champions.
Kelly Holmes on the home straight of the 800 metres in 2004 Olympics.
The whole of the 2005 Ashes Series (after the obligatory Lords debacle.
Munster’s march to the European Cup in 2006.
City needing to beat Burnley 3 zip to go up in 1984. We won two nil.
Redgrave’s final Gold in Sydney.
The first thirteen seconds of the RL Ashes 2004. Morley got sent off. Series over.
Plus countless other moments….