Open legend Tom Watson inadvertently fanned the flames as Padraig Harrington's controversial swing change effectively cost him the Claret Jug.
Harrington received an ovation worthy of a defending champion at the 18th green yesterday but, in reality, his performance at The Open gave little cause for cheer.
After suggesting on Friday that he'd turned the corner, Harrington ran straight into a brick wall at the weekend, playing the final 36 holes in nine-over par as he slumped into a tie for 66th place on 12-over. Yet the 138th Open would have been there for the taking had Harrington been able to perform anywhere close to his true ability.
As ever, Harrington insisted he'd enjoyed the 'trauma' of recent months as he tired to reassemble his ailing swing, saying: “I suppose I like all this stuff. I am intrigued by it all.
“I always want to get better and this is a way of getting better. I will be a better player as a result of this,” he added, breaking into a broad smile: “I WILL have the last laugh.”
Watson innocently waded into the debate on Harrington's form slump when asked on Saturday evening how his own swing still looked as good as it did 30 years ago, Watson explained: “I've always had a long swing.
“When I was a kid, my dad told me to shorten the swing but my old coach, Stan Thirsk, said to me ‘don't listen to your dad’ when you get to be an old guy that long swing will really do you well'.
“I look at Padraig Harrington right now, he shortened his swing and I think he's having troubles because of it. I liked the length of his swing last year and how he's shortened the swing and he's having a hard time with it. You lose your rhythm when you shorten the swing.”
That Watson should innocently cite him as an example underlines just how much Harrington's loss of form this season has become a talking point in professional golf.
And Harrington firmly stated yesterday that he “never tried to shorten my swing. I'm a great believer, as Bob Torrance is, that your swing finds its natural length, as Tom Watson's has.
“It's very nice that he'd take time out and give me a helping hand but, obviously, he's got the wrong information, as many people have,” added the three-time major champion, revealing his swing probably looked shorter because of a fault which crept in as he made other alterations to it this season. I actually got a little bit stuck because I was lifting my arms (too steeply on the backswing) and couldn't go any further,” he explained.