Harrington tops the awards lists

Pádraig Harrington with members of the Irish press at Bloomfield Township, Michigan, August 2008

Pádraig Harrington with members of the Irish press at Bloomfield Township, Michigan, August 2008

Padraig Harrington has put his feet up, locked away his clubs (at least competitively) and pigeonholed some time of his own for winter holidays. But, still, the awards keep rolling in to serve as a reminder of just how good a year he had in 2008 when he captured two majors, the British Open and the US PGA.

Yesterday, the 37-year-old Dubliner was announced as winner of the AIB Irish Golf Writers' Association (IGWA) Professional of the Year award; and today he will be lauded as the recipient of the PGA European Tour's Golfer of the Year.

In both instances his selection was unanimous after Harrington joined an elite group of players to retain the Claret Jug and became the first European since 1930 to claim the Wanamaker Trophy.

Harrington and the other IGWA winners - Leona and Lisa Maguire, who jointly received the Women's Amateur of the Year award; Shane Lowry, the Men's Amateur of the Year, and Distinguished Services recipient Brendan Edwards - will be presented with their awards at a dinner in Dublin on January 8th.

The Maguire twins dominated women's golf: Leona won the Irish Women's Close title, defeating Lisa in the final; but Lisa was to gain a measure of revenge by defeating her sister in the Irish Girls' Close championship and by adding the prestigious European Young Masters championship to her list of honours.

Lowry maintained his impressive amateur career with a fine 2008 that included individual wins in the West of Ireland championship and the North of Ireland championship, and he was also a key member of Ireland's six-man team which retained the European Team Championship.

For Harrington - who has already won the European Tour's Shot of the Year for his five-wood approach to the 17th hole in the final round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale - this year saw him move up a level to become the first European player to win back-to-back majors.

He overcame an injured wrist that hampered his preparations for Birkdale to retain the Claret Jug and, then, became the first European golfer since Scottish-born Tommy Armour in 1930 to win the US PGA.

This is the seventh time Harrington has won the professional award from the golf writers, while it is the second successive year he has won the European Tour's Golfer of the Year title.

He moves alongside Bernhard Langer and Lee Westwood as double winners of an award first presented in 1985.

Colin Montgomerie, with four wins, tops the list while Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo have three wins each.

"When you look at the names of the people who have won the European Tour Golfer of the Year over the past 23 seasons, it certainly shows the standing of the award in the world of golf," said Harrington.

Robert Karlsson, who topped the European Tour money list this season, paid tribute to Harrington.

"He played fantastic golf and is at the peak of a new and strong generation of European players coming through at the top of the game," attested the Swede, while European Tour chief executive George O'Grady claimed that Harrington's achievements gave him "the accolade of the greatest sportsman in Ireland's history."

Harrington could well need an extension to his house for all the awards. Last night, he was also honoured with a Renault Sports Award at a dinner in the Burlington Hotel.