The mid to late 2000s were heady days for Padraig Harrington.
He sealed back-to-back Open Championships in 2007 and 2008, and two majors in a row when he won the 2008 PGA Championship. These were feats that really only a prime Tiger Woods was pulling off at that time.
Indeed, it wasn't the only way in which McIlroy was going toe-to-toe with Tiger; out on the course, Harrington was involved in a number of down-the-stretch battles with the greatest golfer of all-time.
At the 2009 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Harrington lead from the start and had a three shot lead over Woods heading into the final round.
However, on hole 16, with Woods trailing by one and both players on the clock, the American hit an eight iron approach from 176 yards to within inches of the hole, a shot that Harrington described on the Fore Play podcast as "the greatest golf shot probably in the history of golf".
Harrington followed up with an approach into heavy rough, facing a devilish chip with water very much in play.
It was water he found and a triple bogey, four shot swing ensued, handing Woods his seventh win at the Bridgestone.
Padraig Harrington And Tiger Woods Go At It At The WGC Bridgestone Invitational
So, so much fun talking with Padraig Harrington on today’s pod. Loved hearing about his lowkey epic showdown with Tiger in the ‘09 WGC-Bridgestone, where TW hit the greatest shot Paddy had ever seen and it absolutely rattled the man’s brain.
Great show: https://t.co/ZW3lPUuHgF pic.twitter.com/nPnG4PJBow
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) December 20, 2022
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Harrington's next tussle with Woods came only a week later, in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
The stakes were a lot bigger at the major championship, and unfortunately for Harrington, his next single hole blow up was a lot bigger too.
Harrington came into the final round two shots off Woods' lead, and in the penultimate group of the day in front of Tiger and the eventual winner YE Yang.
He had reduced Woods' lead to one as he lined up is tee shot on the par three eighth, but what lay ahead was monumental blow-up, with the previous week's paling in comparison.
After the round, Harrington went through the hole shot by shot, beginning with the tee shot into the water.
“In fairness, when I was on 8, I didn’t feel like I could afford to make bogey by hitting left like most people. I thought I had room on the right-hand side. It was probably two or three yards short from being safe".
His third shot after taking a penalty went way left, above the hole and into rough, nearly hitting his playing partner Henrik Stenson.
“It was a difficult tee shot, and it was obviously a difficult second shot after you hit it in the water,” Harrington said. “I had been changing my chipping action a little, and I probably was more into what I was doing rather than trying to get the ball up and down, and you know, I hit a bad shot. So these things happen.”
Harrington's Worst Ever Hole
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The amateur hour showing from the Dubliner continued, going over the green and back into the water with his fourth, before taking another two shots to make the green and holing out for a quintuple bogey eight.
“I was just trying to make sure to get up with it" said Harrington of his fourth shot.
"The greens had got soft, so I was trying to encourage myself to give it a bit more of a hit. I probably didn’t settle on it enough that my mind probably wasn’t clear. And I did the classic amateur thing and lifted my head.
“Obviously, it was a disappointment for me. I think I’m happy to see that 7 or 8 under has won, because you know, that was my mind-set going out there. I feel like I could have been five, six shots better.”