2005: Masters - Fighting to focus

A couple of weeks prior, world No. 6 Padraig Harrington wasn’t sure he was going to play the Masters. He returned home to Ireland after The Players Championship to be with his father, Paddy, 72, who is battling cancer of the esophagus.

As it happened, Paddy, a former policeman and standout Gaelic football player, made “great improvement” and returned to his Dublin home from the hospital.

“He’s very comfortable at home,” the younger Harrington said. “He’s looking and feeling a lot better.”

So Padraig came to the Masters, but he didn’t stay as long as either would have liked. Harrington, bothered by a sore neck and a balky putter, shot 72-77 and missed the cut by a stroke. Since winning the Honda Classic, Harrington has seemingly focused more on his father’s health than golf. The cancer has jolted him.

“That’s obviously knocked back my whole central nervous system, which takes a long time to recover,” Harrington said at the Masters. “I was very flat all the way through the TPC (Players Championship).”

He anticipated that had he gotten into Masters contention, maintaining focus would have been a challenge.

“It would be a problem emotionally . . . with a few holes to go,” he said.

Paddy played a big part of Padraig’s early development as a golfer.

“I couldn’t have got more encouragement from my dad without ever in any sense pushing or wanting to live his life through my sports,” Harrington said. “It was top-notch. When I was growing up, my dad was a very competitive, very intelligent player, and he just taught me the art of scoring. He would never tell me how to swing the club but encouraged me to score well, and at the end of the day that’s really where my talents lie.”

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