Padraig Harrington shocked the golf world when he became the first player, other than Tiger Woods, to win consecutive majors since Tom Watson won the US & British Opens back in 1982.
But, would things have been different if Tiger Woods had played in the 2008 British Open and PGA Championship?In 2008, Padraig Harrington became the first player, other than Tiger Woods, to win two majors in the same year since Mark O’Meara won the Masters and British Open in 1998.
Other than Tiger Woods, no one has won consecutive majors in the same year since Tom Watson won the US Open and British Open back in 1982.
Harrington’s back-to-back major wins have catapulted him to stardom and have now made him arguably the greatest Irish golfer of all time.
It has become almost taboo to even hint at a PGA Tour win being any less spectacular without Tiger Woods in the field.
Winning a major is an extremely difficult task that every golfer strives for, but very few achieve. Winning back-to-back majors is a monumental task whether Tiger Woods is in the field or not.
However, let’s be completely honest with ourselves, winning a major might be extremely difficult whether Tiger is in the field or not, but it is more difficult when the best player in the world actually is in the field.
Now unless you have a crystal ball in front of you, it is impossible to determine whether Tiger would have won the British Open or PGA Championship, or if he would have even played well if he were there.
But, we also cannot ignore the fact the between late 2007 and early 2008, Woods was on one of the most dominant streaks of his career and probably one of the most dominate streaks in the history of the game.
Woods won five out of his last six tournaments in 2007, including the PGA Championship.
In 2008, Woods won four out of the six tournaments he played in including his improbable win at the US Open in June before shutting it down for the season.
That is an astounding 75 percent winning percentage over that period of time.
Would Harrington have still won the British Open and PGA Championship if Woods were there?
It is very possible, maybe even probable.
However, a complete domination of the PGA Tour like Woods was in the midst of before going down with a knee injury is hard to ignore when thinking about whether Harrington’s outcome at the British Open and PGA Championship might have been different if Woods were there.
The great thing about sports is that it is impossible to precisely predict the outcome; that is why they play the game.
Who would have thought Trevor Immelman would have won the 2008 Masters?
Who would have every thought Greg Norman would have been leading the British Open with just nine holes to play?
Who would have thought Kenny Perry would have won three tour events in 2008?
Golf is even more unpredictable than most other sports in that there are 150+ possible winners each week, making the possibility of picking the winner that much more unlikely.
Not to take anything away from a man who just won two consecutive major championships, but we cannot completely overlook statistics pointing to a very real possibility that things might have been different if Tiger Woods were in the field at the British Open and PGA Championship.
It is a hypothetical argument that has no clear answer.
In Harrington’s defense in this hypothetical argument, he did win the 2007 British Open when Tiger Woods was in the field.
Harrington’s back-to-back major wins were spectacular to say the least.
In both the British Open and PGA Championship Harrington was not the 54-hole leader.
On both occasions, through excellent shot making and superb putting, Harrington went out and took the tournament, which is something we have not seen much of in recent years.
There is one simple way for Harrington to silence the critics.
If Harrington were to win another major in the coming years with Woods present, any and all critics, including myself, would be forever silenced.