Harrington's Major Year
Padraig Harrington was sitting in a Southport hotel and passers-by were looking on with concern. His mind didn't seem in the right place. Then again why should it be? His chances of defending the Open were hanging on the damaged fibres of a strained tendon.
This was the eve of the Championship and Harrington found himself relying on not just a golfing colleague, but a major rival.
Phil Mickelson was lending the Irishman a piece of kit that might help heal the wrist injury that had restricted the champion's pre-tournament practice to a mere nine holes.
The damage had been done the previous Sunday when Harrington had been performing strengthening exercises by swinging one-handed into an impact bag stuffed full of towels.
Phil Mickelson has one of these light laser devices that helps you get into the deep tissue," Harrington revealed. "I rang him on the Sunday and had been up to his hotel a couple of times to get treatment.
"On the Wednesday evening I happened to be in the hotel waiting for him to come back from dinner. I was sitting there and I was actually visualising how I was going to play the golf course," added Harrington in an exclusive interview that will be aired on BBC Five Live on Tuesday December 16.
This would explain the distant, distracted look on his face, not that passers-by were aware of this. They thought they were seeing a player distraught at the prospect of missing his title defence.
"I got interrupted a couple of times by well-meaning people who actually kind of knew me through golf. They were thinking that I was going to be pulling out of the event.
"Luckily there wasn't a balcony because if there was I think they would have thought I was going to jump off, but I was actually just visualising my first round and making use of my time," Harrington said.
And the rest, as they say.....
In the following four days the Irishman retained the Claret Jug and within three weeks had made it back-to-back majors with victory at the US PGA.
He reflects on both wins in the Five Live Sport programme "Harrington's Major Year". Talking about his Oakland Hills triumph he reveals the secret boost he gained with an unrecognised birdie in his rain-interrupted third round.
"I had just birdied the ninth when they blew the horn on the Saturday, but they hadn't recorded it," Harrington said. "I was one more under par than everybody thought so I was coming back to start the second half of my round on the Sunday morning with one already in the bag.
"That's a great feeling. It was like I was being given a birdie."
Harrington also details how he overcame exhaustion and dehydration to claim the third major of what has fast become an outstanding career.
He also admits he is still struggling to come to terms with what he has achieved. "When I compare myself with the other guys who have won three majors (Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh) I start saying to myself, 'these are guys that I looked up to, I still look up to. These are guys that I fear and I wish that I was as good as them.
"And then you look at the results and you think 'ooh, maybe I am.' That's hard to come to terms with."
Sergio Garcia, the man Harrington beat to win his first Open and again to win the US PGA, and Lee Westwood, who came close to winning this year's US Open, also give the programme their opinions on what the Dubliner has achieved.
Undoubtedly Harrington has been the prime mover in the absence of the injured Tiger Woods and his challenge is to sustain that momentum when the world number one returns.
The Irishman has done what Mickelson, Els and Singh (among many others) were unable to do. He fully capitalised on Woods' absence.
Harrington has not just muscled his way into that elite group immediately below Woods -he has become its main man.
It's nothing more than a mischievous thought, but I wonder if Mickelson would be so generous with his medical equipment next time?
("Harrington's Major Year" Five Live Sport 8pm Tuesday December 16.)