It’s never a bad year when you’ve managed to win a tournament. There are plenty of years when you don’t win and you start to wonder if you will do again, and if you go more than a year then it can really start to play on your mind.
Padraig Harrington may be a prolific winner but the Irishman is also very much a mental player, someone who thinks a lot, so it would have been important to him to claim a first title of the season at the Portugal Masters on Sunday.
His victory at Vilamoura capped a successful week for Ryder Cup vice-captains, as Paul Lawrie – another of Darren Clarke's lieutenants last month – finished just three strokes behind in a tie for fifth.
Harrington, 45, is likely to be a Ryder Cup captain one day but is determined to be part of the European team in 2018 as a player, and there is no reason why a player as accomplished as him couldn’t achieve that.
I think sometimes people forget that he is a three-time Major winner. He also works as hard as anyone. He had a barren spell a few years ago but now looks to be swinging better and playing better.
2018 may be too soon for captain Harrington
He doesn’t want to take on the captain’s responsibility while he is still playing at a high level and talked about Paul McGinley’s successful captaincy in 2014 changing the parameters of skippering the side.
It’s certainly true that you cannot have any aspirations on the playing front for the two years leading up to being Ryder Cup captain, so perhaps the next one will come too soon for Harrington.
What’s for sure is that he has all the ingredients to do the job well one day. He has huge experience both as a player and as a vice-captain, and that means he knows what players want. He is also well respected and well liked by his peers.
Harrington was pushed all the way by Andy Sullivan, the defending champion, in Portugal but used his fantastic short game to great effect, getting up and down at the last three holes to win by shot.
Relief and heartache
Overnight joint-leader Mikko Korhonen slipped back to tie for third but that was still enough to secure his European Tour card at what was the final opportunity.
Further down the leaderboard Scott Jamieson tied for 50th – just enough for the Scot to make the all-important order of merit top 111 and start looking ahead to next year with fresh enthusiasm.
On the other hand, it was heartbreaking for Graeme Storm, whose bogey at the last hole in Portugal saw him finish the season 112th and miss out on a tour card by just €100.
Overdue recognition for Woosnam
Lastly, I was delighted to see Ian Woosnam inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week.
I’ve said it before, but Woosnam is a thoroughly deserving recipient and, at 58, the only shame is that he wasn’t recognised for the honour before.