Tiger Woods won his seventh WGC-Bridgestone title on Sunday, but the world’s best golfer was critical of how referee John Paramor’s intervention might have affected Padraig Harrington on the 16th hole.
“Like I was telling him out there, ‘I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle,’ because it was such a great battle for 16 holes,” said Woods. “And unfortunately, that happened.”
After both players finished the 15th hole, John Paramor, the chief referee on the European tour, told them that they were running 17 minutes late and that he was going to put both golfers on the clock.
In a conversation with Scott Crockett from pgatour.com, Harrington explains what happened next.
“I wasn't unhappy to have missed the fairway right. It's not the end of the world. I rushed my second shot chipping it out and didn't hit a good shot and obviously left myself in trouble,” he said.
"I hit a pretty decent third shot. Again, I had an awkward fourth shot. I had to go after it and probably rushed that a bit, as well. That was the end of that.
“It's an awkward situation. There are rules and the players make the rules and we've got to apply them. Obviously it was a difficult situation, and you don't want to get out of position. If you're put on the clock, you always want to be nicely in position so you're not having to think too much.”
When players are on the clock they have 40 seconds to make the shot. Harrington went on to say that that was more than enough time when one is in a good position but that “It's only when you get out of position that all of a sudden you start thinking about it. I got out of position and just got myself out of the zone.”
Harrington attempted a flop shot for his fourth and misjudged it, hitting it straight into the water, and his chances of victory sank with his ball.
The referee and the PGA both said that all they were doing was to apply the rules of the game, but Woods’ comments alone suggest that he feels the referee’s intervention caused the stirring battle between the two to end prematurely.
But triple major winner Harrington refused to use the referee’s warning as an excuse.
“If you're asking a player two or three groups ahead of the lead to play within a certain time frame, it's unfair to give the leaders any leeway. That's the way,” said Harrington.
It had been a see/saw battle up to that point with Woods streaking ahead early, but a combination of gritty play from the Irishman and a few unforced errors from Woods left Harrington one shot ahead at the 16th tee.
Harrington plans to cut back slightly on his practice rounds ahead of the U.S. PGA, which starts this Thursday at Hazeltine, as he was not expecting such a draining week at the WGC.
Both men said that they were sure that they would have more one on one battles against each other. If they are anything like the action at Firestone for 15 holes on Sunday, then those battles can’t come soon enough.