It should come as no surprise that Padraig Harrington would have a less than perfect first round at the Bridgestone Invitational. ‘I was a long long way from my last round at the Open, in terms of focus’, the Irishman tells us.
Harrington’s biggest challenge will be how he reacts to any potential dip in form over the next three months. His status and stature within the game has changed. And with it come expectations. Everyone now will be taking notice of him. Is he good enough to win another major? Was it a one-off? The chances are he will be tempted to try very hard to meet these expectations. Of others. And of course himself.
But that would be a mistake. He should give himself a screw-up allowance. For three months. Be fair on himself. Let his game slowly find it’s natural level again. It’s OK to make a few mistakes. Be less than perfect.
Internally an adjustment is being made to this new reality. The reality of being Open Champion. It will take time for that new setting to become the default setting. Whilst that transition is being made, Padraig must ward against frustration and anxiety. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
That way, when all of him feels settled with the role and status of being champion, he will be ready and able to ride the next wave of success. If, however he becomes frustrated at his inability to play consistently at Open Champion level, he will miss the incoming wave and forever wonder how to regain that magical Carnoustie Sunday feeling.