Golf

In the end, respect evident for Berger, Harrington at Honda Classic

Padraig Harrington, right, shakes hands with Daniel Berger after winning the Honda Classic on No. 17, the second hole of a playoff.
Padraig Harrington, right, shakes hands with Daniel Berger after winning the Honda Classic on No. 17, the second hole of a playoff. AP

Age is often a discussion point in golf.

It always centers on the up-and-coming 20-year-old big, strong kids vs. the wise, 40-year-old veterans with their sun-weathered skin.

Is Tiger Woods done? Is Rory McIlroy taking over for him? That’s how the discussion goes.

Golf’s generation difference was very apparent at this year’s Honda Classic and particularly in the final round and playoff

The tournament came down to The Kid, 21-year-old Daniel Berger, and The Veteran, well-tested 43-year-old Padraig Harrington.

The Kid won the battle, Monday’s final round, but The Veteran won the war, winning the tournament.

Nevertheless, both winner Harrington and runner-up Berger walked away with respect for each other and each other’s generation.

Harrington talking about Berger: “OK, he lost in a playoff,” Harrington said, “but he was good enough to win this week, and he’ll be good enough to win weeks down the road.

“He looks like he’s got good strong character and probably will be a player you can watch for.”

Berger talking about Harrington when it was mentioned Berger was about 11 years old in 2005 when Harrington won the first of his two Hondas: “I don’t ever remember seeing him play,” Berger said. “I wasn’t really much into watching golf. I don’t watch that much golf even today. But he’s a great player.

“That shot on 17 was kind of a dagger in my heart.”

Berger was referring to the 5-iron Harrington hit three feet from the pin on the second playoff hole that ensured Harrington’s championship.

Monday’s playoff was the second time Harrington and Berger have met.

“I think I was singing on the putting green at Pebble Beach,” Berger recalled, and he [Harrington] goes, ‘You can’t be singing out here.’”

Wait, that sounds like a generational clash.

False alarm, just the opposite.

“He was joking with me,” Berger said.

Harrington was about to give Berger a glimpse into the future, one generation to another generation.

“He went on to tell me, ‘After 20 years out here you won’t be singing on the putting greens.’”

At one point following his victory Monday, Harrington was jokingly asked what Berger called him during the playoff: “Sir” or “Mister.”

“I don’t remember,” Harrington said smiling. “We didn’t have a big chat out there, but I think I gave him a warm well-done about getting into the playoff, and he did the same to me.”

So, golf does include different generations, and it’s an interesting discussion as to when one generation takes over from the other, but as Harrington and Berger showed, it can be a pleasant discussion.

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