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One put could have changed everything

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Associated Press

SOUTHPORT, England — Padraig Harrington has two British Open titles, and it all started with a miss.

But it wasn’t his.

The morning after he defended his title at Royal Birkdale, the Irishman already was looking ahead. He now is in the same company as Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Dave Stockton and others who have won the same major twice. Next on his list is winning a third major, perhaps one in America.

But imagine where he would be if Sergio Garcia had made that 10-foot par putt last year at the British Open.

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What everyone remembers from Carnoustie is Harrington draped in an Irish flag and carrying his son Patrick, who wanted to fill the silver claret jug with ladybirds. Forgotten after his playoff victory was a collapse that would have ranked with anything Norman ever did and, by Harrington’s admission, might have ruined his career.

Harrington had a one-shot lead on the 18th when he hit his tee shot into Barry Burn. Then he chunked a 5-iron for his third shot that tumbled into the burn again. His greatest shot was a 5-foot putt for double bogey.

All that spared him a crushing defeat was Garcia, whose par putt to win the British Open looked good until the final inch.

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