World’s hottest golfer visits new home site in Polk County

Published 1:06 pm Friday, August 22, 2008

The audience of about 350 area residents and prospective buyers at White Oak all laughed. Most just felt lucky themselves to be spending a little time with Harrington, the golfing world&squo;s hottest player at present with two major wins this season.

Harrington was in town last week to pick out his homesite at White Oak, and the partners threw a little get-together Sunday in his honor.

After lunch, Harrington headed out to the driving range and gave a 45-minute golf clinic and then returned to the large tent by the plantation house to accept an honorary citizenship certificate and sign autographs for a long line of well-wishers.

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Presenting a framed Honorary Polk County Citizenship certificate, county board chairman Tommy Melton noted how the invitation to Sunday&squo;s festivities proclaimed Harrington&squo;s 2007 and 2008 British Open championships.

&dquo;I was looking at this invitation, wondering what I wanted to say to the number one golfer in the world,&dquo; Melton said. &dquo;I noticed that since the invitations were printed, just 14 days ago, he has also won the PGA Championship. These invitations are quite valuable collectibles now!&dquo;

Accepting the certificate, Harrington said he has had many such offers since beginning his run of major wins. But Polk County&squo;s was his first offer and he said he would treasure it all his life.

As for becoming a White Oak resident, Harrington said, &dquo;My family is keen to come back. You all know the wife makes the decisions. We feel this is a unique place with a great atmosphere.&dquo;

&dquo;This is a big day for Polk County,&dquo; said Madelon Wallace, owner of Walker, Wallace & Emerson Realty and a Tryon Little Theater board member. &dquo;To have Padraig here after what he&squo;s done, the attention that brings to Polk County. He can light anywhere he wants in the U.S. and the fact that he&squo;s here attests to the positive environment in Polk County.

&dquo;It is real important to realize the reason people come here,&dquo; she added. &dquo;They come here because we are small town America, because we aren&squo;t Greenville or Spartanburg.&dquo;

By now, Harrington is back at work on a practice tee.

He was to appear this weekend in the FedEx Cup tournament at the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. and was also looking forward to competing with the European team in the Ryder Cup tournament in Louisville, Ky. Sept. 16-21.

&dquo;The Europeans feel a bit like the country cousins of the U.S. tour,&dquo; Harrington said. &dquo;We feel as if we have something to prove.&dquo;

May the luck of White Oak be with Polk County&squo;s newest, honorary citizen.