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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

'He was a very sore loser': Harrington opens up on testy relationship with Garcia

The Dubliner admits the pair are civil to each other, but it’s always through gritted teeth.

THE RIVALRY BETWEEN Dubliner Pádraig Harrington and US Masters champion Sergio Garcia has once again been thrown into the spotlight after the Spaniard won his first golf Major at Augusta on Sunday.

Harrington had a couple of high-profile duels with Garcia en route to winning two of his three Major titles — the 2007 Open Championship and the 2008 US PGA Championship.

The pair are chalk and cheese in terms of personality and this difference has dictated the nature of their testy relationship over the past 20 years.

Harrington’s notoriety for meticulous preparation is worlds apart from Garcia’s laid-back attitude, something which the Irishman opened up on during his punditry work with Sky Sports in Augusta, and more recently with RTÉ 2FM’s Game On.

“Myself and Sergio have been on tour pretty much as long as each other. We would have been opposites.

“His is a very flamboyant game, everything comes easy. There were periods when 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 their golf clubs. That would be my attitude. That would be quite clear from where I came from.

“Then we would have went into the Majors, and obviously I beat him in the Majors. I gave him every out I possibly could have at the 2007 Open.

“I was as polite and generous as I could be, but he was a very sore loser. And he continued to be a very sore loser.

“Clearly, after that, we have had a very sticky wicket.

“The Ryder Cup obviously improves it no end. We say hello to each other every day we meet, but it’s with gritted teeth. There’s no doubt about it.

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“I know he’s watching how I’m doing and I’m watching how he’s doing.

“It’s just one of those things, we’re rivals.”

Despite the antipathy between the pair Harrington admitted he couldn’t help but feel moved by Garcia claiming his first Major over the weekend, when he defeated England’s Justin Rose in a dramatic play-off.

“I was delighted to see the emotion on the 18th green. Anybody watching that has got to feel for him.

“Maybe I’m a bit harsh in the fact that I look at it and say everything comes easy to Sergio, but clearly it hasn’t come easy to him.

“You could see in that moment in time that he probably has paid his dues and I might have had a chip on the shoulder about that.

“I suppose he was a bigger star than he was performer at one stage.

“He has definitely paid his dues now. His future wife, I met her at the Ryder Cup, is a lovely girl. I could feel for them.

“The genuine emotion, the thrill of winning, I could see that as a competitor. I could appreciate it and I was very happy for him in that moment.”

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