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Ex-Jesuit golfer gets homecoming

Well-traveled vet Scott Harrington preps for WinCo


by: COURTESY OF WINCO FOODS PORTLAND OPEN - Scott Harrington, a 1999 Jesuit High graduate, will be in the field when the WinCo Foods Portland Open is played at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club Aug. 21-24.Scott Harrington went off to college at Northwestern and has made Scottsdale, Ariz., his home since soon after graduation in 2003.

But the 1999 Jesuit High grad can’t think of a better place to spend a late August week than Portland.

Harrington will be among the 156-player field in the inaugural WinCo Foods Portland Open Aug. 21-24 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course.

“Can’t wait to get back up here in August,” said Harrington, who will vie for the $144,000 top prize and one of 25 PGA Tour cards in the $800,000 Web.com Tour tournament. “Typically I’m not up here that time of year because I’m traveling. My parents, my brother, my nephew, my extended family — they all still live here. It will be great to have local support.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to play in front of friends or family in Portland since high school. In college, we played in Oregon’s tournament at Eugene, and when (the Web.com Tour) was called the ‘Buy.com Tour,’ we used to have a stop in Eugene. But playing in Portland will be real special. I don’t get back to the Northwest very often anymore, but when I do, I really look forward to it.”

Harrington, a Raleigh Hills native who attended Beaverton public schools before arriving at Jesuit, led the Crusaders to a pair of state championships and was named Oregon Junior Golf Association player of the year. He’s glad he chose to attend college in Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.

“I’m really glad I did it,” says Harrington, 31. “Going away for college is great. Northwestern’s a great school and Chicago’s an awesome town. We had some really good teams.”

Harrington took only four years to earn a degree in communications.

“My parents were pleased with that, I’m sure,” he says with a grin. “I thought I was a relatively intelligent kid coming out of Jesuit, but it was a whole ‘nother ballgame there. It was tough.”

In the decade since, “I’ve played just about every tour there is — mini-tours, this tour, PGA Tour events, Europe,” Harrington says. “I’m an example of the guy who has played everywhere. If I can one day make the PGA Tour, I could say it hasn’t come easily.”

Harrington’s career earnings are $256,000, but near a quarter of it came when he finished second in the Web.com 2012 Price Cutter Charity Championship at Springfield, Mo. Harrington lost in a playoff to fellow Northwestern alum Chris Wilson, earning $67,500.

“That was a great week for me,” Harrington says. “I didn’t have any status on the (Web.com) tour at the time. I was playing mini-tours. I qualified on Monday and played great all week. I lost in the playoffs, but I gained membership on the tour for the rest of that year. That’s essentially how I got back on this tour.”

Last year, Harrington qualified for the Northern Trust Open at Pacific Palisades, Calif., on the PGA Tour. He made the cut and finished in a tie for 46th at 2-over-par 290, earning $18,295. In so doing, Harrington beat the likes of PGA Tour veterans Vijay Singh, Ben Curtis, Stuart Appleby, Retief Goosen, Charles Howell III, Dustin Johnson, Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson and Ben Crane.

“That’s one of the best events in golf all year,” Harrington says. “Just about every top player is there. That was a lot of fun on a hard, championship golf course. I played pretty well, but I didn’t play great. To go out there and have a solid finish in that kind of field was a confidence boost.”

All players now get their PGA Tour cards through performance on the Web.com Tour, which features the next 125 best players in the world. Effective in 2013, survivors of the qualifying school start out on the Web.com Tour. The WinCo Foods Portland Open is the last stop of the tour’s regular season. The players who finish Portland in the top 25 on the Web.com money list receive PGA Tour cards for 2015. In addition, players start from scratch in a four-tournament postseason in late August and September, with an additional 25 cards given to the cumulative top money-winners in those events.

“There’s going to be an awful lot on the line at Pumpkin Ridge that week,” Harrington says. “It’s going to make for some exciting golf, both for the players and the fans.”

Harrington speaks freely about the quality of golf on the Web.com Tour.

“People recognize that most PGA Tour players come from this tour, but I don’t think they understand how truly competitive this tour is and how minimal the difference is between it and the PGA Tour,” he says. “The main difference is opportunity. There are a lot of really good players playing this tour. Every single player out here could win on the PGA Tour. People just don’t know our name quite yet.

“This is the only way to get to the PGA Tour now. (Web.com officials) do a great job with the events. They set courses up similar to the PGA Tour. They prepare you well for what you will face there. They have a lot of ambition for the (Web.com) tour and where they want to take it. I’m hoping I’m not here too much longer, but I look forward to this tour getting a whole lot better.”

Harrington is a member of Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale.

“We have about 20 PGA Tour players who are members, including (U.S. Open champion) Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson,” Harrington says. “I get to play with a lot of very multi-winners on the tour, and I’m beating them just as much as they’re beating me.”

But Harrington isn’t getting the same kind of results when it counts. He currently ranks 85th on the Web.com Tour money list with $27,326 in earnings.

His best finishes came in June. At the Cleveland Open, he won $10,500 and tied for 14th with an 8-under 276. At the United Leasing Championship in Newburgh, Ind., three weeks later, he won $9,900 and tied for 15th at 3-under 285.

“I’ve only missed three cuts, but have played very mediocre golf,” Harrington says. “There has been good and bad. It’s good that my mediocre golf is allowing me to make cuts and play on the weekends, but at some point you need to start playing better, which I did (in Cleveland).

“I made a little change mentally a few weeks ago that will help me. I noticed the difference in Cleveland. I’m starting to play well. I have a lot of courses I like coming up. I just need to get in a groove and get things going in the right direction.”

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Twitter: @kerryeggers