OPEN Champion Padraig Harrington has become the first professional golfer to conquer the world’s most amazing par three.
The Irish star took the helicopter to the top of Hanglip Mountain at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort on the Big 5 Entabeni Safari Conservancy in Limpopo Province in South Africa for the challenge of the Extreme 19th.
There he hit driver to the green the shape of Africa some 400m below.
After hitting four practice balls Harrington smashed his competition ball into the bunker surrounding the green before flying back down and splashing out to just about 18 inches and holing the putt for the first par by a professional.
Harrington said the Extreme 19th is one of the most amazing holes he has ever played.
He said: “This is golf in 2010…this is the type of innovation and excitement we need to get more people playing golf. There aren’t many new innovative ways to play the game but this is certainly one of the best. And now I’ve got bragging rights over all the other professionals who have played this and not managed to make a three. I love everything about it.”
Harrington is the ninth of the designers from the unique 18 signature course at Legend Golf & Safari Resort to play the Extreme 19th.
The Signature Course has been designed by 18 of the world’s leading golfers, with each of them designing one hole.
The list of signatures who have been honoured to work on the project reads like a who’s who of world golf including Trevor Immelman, Sergio Garcia; Bernard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Justin Rose, Vijay Singh, K J Choi, Retief Goosen and of course Padraig Harrington to name but a few.
But Harrington is the first to conquer the Extreme 19th with a par three.
After hitting four practice balls to judge the distance and wind, one of which he hit to just five feet from the pin, Harrington was a little disappointed when his chosen competition ball took a slight gust of wind as it travelled the 25 seconds hang time before landing off the horn of Africa in the sand.
But after pacing the 35 yards to the pin he played a wonderful shot before placing and cleaning his ball and sinking the short putt with a steely determination that has seen him win three Majors.
He said: “I now really do have bragging rights across the world on practice tees with Justin Rose, K J Choi, Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen, Sergio, Luke Donald, Raphael Jacquelin and Trevor Immelman. This is one of my proudest par 3’s.”
And he went further by suggesting that the Extreme 19th would make a great play-off hole and even a great hole for a special made for TV event.
He said: “I think this hole is awesome! I love the whole experience, the helicopter, the views, the drama, the green the shape of Africa. The whole concept is fantastic and I’m looking forward to coming back and taking on the challenge of the Extreme 19th again.”
Harrington took the helicopter to the Extreme 19th as part of his trip to inspect the 10th hole he has designed at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort – the first hole he has ever designed.
And after inspecting his par 4, 10th, Harrington said he was delighted with the finished product, but that he may like a few more bunkers adding.
He said: “I’m delighted to have been involved in this project especially as it’s the first golf hole I’ve designed.
“I love the drama of playing towards the mountain and when a few trees have been moved from the left of the fairway golfers will have a great view of the ‘Tiger line’ down Harrington’s Alley...the best way to the green. The fairway bunkers are great but I think I’d like just a few more in there. It’s great to be able to put a bit of your golfing personality into a hole and I’ve tried to do that here. “
The unique 18 signature golf course is due to open for play in March 2009 and is taking bookings now and is already one of the most talked about courses in Africa. But the challenge of the Extreme 19th is one you can take now at Legend Golf & Safari Resort. While the Entabeni Safari Conservancy is also inspiring visitors – including all 112 Miss World contestants who recently spent six days there.
For more information about Legend Golf & Safari Resort please go to www.legendgolfsafari.com