Honesty in the world of professional sport is increasingly rare, hence why Padraig Harrington's Sky punditry debut was so refreshing. Harrington has had a strained relationship with Sergio Garcia for years, and when asked on Sky to shovel more emotional weight behind Sergio, he demurred.
Sky host: Your heart would pick Sergio, wouldn't it?
Harrington: Well, maybe not mine.
Garcia did eventually win, and Harrington was happy to praise his golf throughout the tournament and congratulate him on his victory. Later that week on 2FM's Game On, Harrington was asked to further explain the bad blood between he and the new Masters champion. As ever, Harrington was happy to answer:
It's very simple. Myself and Sergio have been on tour as long as each other. We would have been the opposite. His is a very flamboyant game, everything comes easy. There were periods he never practised. We were such opposites. I worked at it, grinded it out. Got the best out of it.
I’m very strong on the etiquette of the game, so I don’t tolerate people spitting in the hole, throwing their shoes or throwing golf clubs. That would be my attitude. And it would be quite clear where I came from.
Then we went into the majors and obviously I beat him at the majors. I gave him every out I possibly could. I gave him every out I possibly could have at the 2007 Open.
I was as polite as I could and was as generous as I could be, but he was a very sore loser. And he continued to be a very sore loser.
So clearly, after that, we have had a very sticky wicket. The Ryder Cup improved it no end. We say hello to each other every day and it is through gritted teeth, there is no doubt about it. I know he is watching what I am doing and I am watching what he is doing. It is one of those things. He's a rival.
While that honesty has been lauded by many, Harrington has been attracted some criticism, notably from Irish sports writer David Walsh in today's Sunday Times. Walsh argues that Harrington's criticism of Garcia is "unfair":
The new Sergio is an admirable man. This is why Padraig Harrington's criticism of Garcia on Irish radio laast week was unfair. Harrington wished to be honest and told of how he'd fallen out with the Spaniard after their battle at the 2007 Open at Carnoustie....
...Harrington would have known that in the days after his greatest triumph, Garcia wasn't going to get involved in this historical dispute and he should have left it alone. In the not-too-distant future, Harrington is going to want to captain Europe in the Ryder Cup.
Last week's criticism of a great Europe player will not have helped his cause.
This is curious criticism, we doubt that Harrington went on radio to stoke up some cheap publicity over a tit-for-tat with Garcia, and was simply answering a question with honesty.
Also, surely we shouldn't be criticising sports people for honesty? All sports are cursed by athletes who refuse to answer questions directly for fear of upsetting the establishment, something Walsh, the fine investigative reporter that he is, has surely run into on a number of occasions?
You can read his full column in today's Sunday Times.