Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Padraig Harrington chosen ahead of Tiger Woods for university honour

Golfer Padraig Harrington is to be awarded an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in a ceremony that will take place on the eve of the 150th staging of the Open in July.

Significantly, the Dubliner has been chosen ahead of Tiger Woods, the winner of the last two stagings of the Open at St Andrews, in 2000 and 2005.

Given his stellar achievements on the golf course it could be argued by some that Tiger Woods would have been ahead of Padraig Harrington in the pecking order to receive honours from the prestigious college.

But a university spokesman stressed that the award was not just about prowess on a golf course.

The college spokesman said: “Padraig Harrington exemplifies excellence, drive and achievement at the highest levels of professional sport. He's a fantastic role model and a great ambassador for golf.”

If Woods, the world number one, was considered, one imagines the latter observation would not have been possible in the light of disclosures following the low-speed car-crash outside his home in Florida last November.

The crash led to a series of lurid revelations about extra marital affairs with several women, a spell in rehab, and a four month break from golf which ended last month when Woods competed in the US Masters.

Harrington was among professional golfers who criticised Woods in the wake of the scandal which threatened to end his career and marriage.

Speaking last December, the Irish sports star said he had no sympathy for the world number one.

“You choose your own path,” he said.

When asked on RTE’s Late Late Show if he liked Woods, Harrington said that the pair considered each other friends, but added: “He's always been somebody who keeps himself to himself.”

Harrington will join Seamus Heaney as a recipient of the honour from the Scottish university which was founded in the 15th century.

Jack Nicklaus, who like Tiger Woods is another two-time Open winner at St Andrews, is among those previously honoured.

Harrington is to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa on July 13 at a ceremony which is a traditional feature of Open Week in St Andrews, widely regarded as the home of golf.

It will take place in the University's graduation venue at Younger Hall in North Street.

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