Except for the impressive hardware in his home, Padraig Harrington does not act as if he is among the elite in golf.
The Irishman has kept the claret jug on his breakfast table for the last two years, taking possession of golf's oldest trophy when he won the British Open at Carnoustie, then becoming the first European player in a century to successfully defend it last year at Royal Birkdale.
The Wanamaker Trophy for winning the PGA Championship last summer is too big, so he placed that in hallway entrance on a small stand.
Not to be forgotten is the Harry Vardon Trophy from 2006, his first Order of Merit as winner of the European Tour money title.
"The great thing about them is that they are great to look at," Harrington said. "Every time you walk by them, they just bring a little bit of that back to you that you've gone and done something very special."
They are reminders, nothing more.
Harrington does not believe he is a great person simply because he has played great golf. Perhaps no other multiple major champion from his era is more grounded in the appreciation of where he came from and how far he still has to go.
To that point, go back one year to the final hour before he teed off in the final group at Royal Birkdale.
"We went out to the driving range Sunday morning, and it was freezing out there," said Bob Rotella, the noted sports psychologist who has spent years working with and learning from Harrington. "There must have been 100 kids by the entrance, and he intentionally got there 40 minutes early. He sat at the entrance and signed autograph after autograph."
After going through his practice routine, Harrington turned down a ride to the chipping area, signing more autographs for a group of kids who followed him on the 300-yard walk.
"He's a neat guy in that regard," Rotella said. "He has a lot of appreciation for what the game has meant to him."
The game is a grind at the moment.
Harrington has poured so much attention into retooling his swing that his results have suffered. He has not finished in the top 10 since his 2009 debut, a tie for fifth in the Abu Dhabi Championship. He missed five consecutive cuts leading to the British Open at Turnberry, where he will try to become the first player in more than 50 years to win three straight times.
One of those cuts came at Bethpage Black at the U.S. Open. Even then, he stood along the fence outside the clubhouse and chatted amiably with the media for nearly a half-hour about the state of his game.
Harrington is not one to panic or pout.
"My confidence in myself has not taken a hammering at all," Harrington said. "I'm still very upbeat and very focused on what I'm doing, and very positive and optimistic. But yes, my confidence on the golf course, when I'm out there playing, has not been the best. But when I'm off the golf course, and I'm thinking about it and I'm working on it, I'm in good spirits.
"But definitely, on the golf course, I can do with positive results and feedback."
Harrington can join even more exclusive company by winning the British Open or the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players in the last 25 years to win majors in three successive seasons. No European has done that in more than a century.
History, though, does not drive Harrington.
He had a chance at the Masters this year to join Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three different majors in a row. He opened with a 69, didn't break par the rest of the week and tied for 35th. Now, he is trying to join Peter Thomson as the only players since 1882 to win golf's oldest championship three straight years.
Both opportunities were met with the same perspective.
"The idea that it has to be the next one is not how I go about things," he said. "I'd rather win two over five years than one this year for the three (in a row). I know three would be very special, and it would be remarkable in terms of it not having been done since Peter Thomson. If it happens, I'll be singing from the rooftops.
"But there's no point in focusing on the extra one tournament," he said. "I'm better off taking this as a process."
The process is what it's all about for Harrington, who finished his college degree in accounting before turning professional in 1995. He enjoyed moderate success early on the European Tour, but was better known for so many runner-up finishes - 24 and counting.
Even then, Harrington never seemed to be in a hurry.
"He's a guy who's a late bloomer, who had to be patient and work his tail off to get where he wanted to," Rotella said. "A lot of late bloomers have a good attitude, because it's their only option."
He watches the news and reads the paper, except for the golf.
Harrington didn't believe the media when they said he wasn't good enough to be a star, and he doesn't believe them when they write about the great things he has done.
"He really evaluates himself based on, 'Did I do what I wanted to do?" Rotella said. "And when he does that, he's happy."
Just don't get the idea Harrington has bad feelings toward the media.
During his pro-am at Torrey Pines earlier this year, he spoke of being perplexed by his colleagues who were leery of what was written or said about them. In his eyes, there is no such thing as bad press.
"All press is good," Harrington said. "Because that means people are talking about you. And as a sportsman, that's what you want."
They will be talking about him at Turnberry, whether it's his chance to keep the claret jug on his breakfast table for a third straight year or his taking the weekend off in five straight tournaments leading up to the British Open.
Harrington doesn't have all the answers, but no one has ever questioned his effort.
He recently sat down with the people who matter - wife Carolina, caddie Ronan Flood, Rotella and swing coach Bob Torrance - for what Harrington jokingly called an "intervention." It was time to put the analytical side of him on hold, and focus more on competition.
"He's in good spirits," Rotella said. "He has a very good acceptance of the game. He loves it when it's hard, and he loves it when it's easy and everything falls into his lap. But that's what loving golf is all about. He loves it all the time."
by Doug Fergusen