Padraig Harrington has advice for his 24-year-old self two decades on

Dubliner won his first tour event in 1996 and chats to Off The Ball

Padraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Did you know it was 20 years ago this week that Padraig Harrington enjoyed his first victory on tour as a pro?

Off The Ball's Joe Molloy reminded him and the memories came flooding back for the three-time major winner.

"You're the first person to mention that today and you're right. It was May 20 years ago that I won my first event and never looked back since," he said of his win at the 1996 Peugeot Spanish Open where he finished four shots clear of Scotland's Gordon Brand, Jnr.

"Tenth tournament [of my career] on tour, it was and I got a great start and it makes all the difference. You get so many good amateurs turning pro and they get a slow start or they miss a cut or two and all of a sudden, they believe they have to change things or their game isn't good enough. The most important thing is to get a smooth start."

As for the aftermath, he described it as more on the subdued side.

"I went straight to the UK [afterwards], took 13 on a Par 5 to miss the cut - I think was the third highest score ever recorded on a hole in golf. But I suppose I was a bit young and naive then and kind of thought that maybe I was going to get more and more wins.

"I think if I was to win this week, I would have a better celebration on Sunday night, that's for sure."

And he also had advice for his 24-year-old self: "If I was going back to the guy in 1996, I think I would tell the guy to enjoy his wins more. It doesn't happen as often as you think."

That of course would mean victory on home soil as this weekend is the Irish Open, which he previously won in 2007.

He also explained why he would fascinated in hearing about how Celtic and Sweden football legend Henrik Larsson speak about his rise to the top. 

Plus he spoke about how the late Christy O'Connor Senior inspired his father to take up golf.

"So I wouldn't be playing golf only for Christy O'Connor Senior," he said.