The formidable closing stretch at Carnoustie has always produced grandstand finishes. During yesterday’s media outing for this July’s Open, meanwhile, some of the more hapless golf writers just about brought the freshly erected grandstands crashing down with their wild and wayward thrashes.

Padraig Harrington is no stranger to a captivating conclusion in this neck of the woods. His maiden major triumph in the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 was a nail-nibbling, hands-over-the-eyes epic. But more of that shortly.

The cheery, chatty Irishman may have been holding a conference call to promote this season’s Open but a meander into Ryder Cup territory gave a reflective blether more of a fresh news line as the 46-year-old flung his hat into the ring for the European captaincy in 2020 at Whistling Straits.

There is the potential for the transatlantic tussle coming to Harrington’s native land in 2026, with the owners of Adare Manor in Limerick flexing their financial muscles and preparing a bid to host the biennial battle.

“But that’s too late for me,” declared Harrington, who played in six Ryder Cups and has been a vice-captain twice. “It would be too much of a risk. I would be somewhat out-of-touch with players by 2026 and there would a lot of good players coming on the scene by then. I see myself putting my name in the ring to be Ryder Cup captain sooner rather than later.

“I don’t think I will be waiting around for 2026. As much as I would love to be the captain in Ireland, I think it’s better for me to pitch for the captaincy before that. 2020 would be a good time for me.”

And with that, it was back to the Open. The memories of that Claret Jug conquest at Carnoustie 11 years ago remain as vivid as ever, not least the fraught, breathless finale which just about had the R&A officials dishing out complimentary oxygen masks.

Leading by one standing on the 72nd hole, Harrington plunged two balls into the Barry Burn, managed to salvage a double-bogey six but dropped a stroke off the lead. Sergio Garcia, playing in the match behind, had the Claret Jug in his clutches but found the greenside bunker with his approach to the last and then watched a title-winning putt lip out.

Harrington was handed a reprieve and would win in the resulting four-hole play-off with the Spaniard. The topsy-turvy tumult had certainly toyed with the emotions.

“When I hit that third shot into the water (on the 18th) it was very hard to take and I thought the Open was over,” he reflected. “I think it was the only time I’ve ever been on a golf course where I felt like I’d let myself down, I’d let my friends down and I’d let my fans down.

“I felt like I’d choked. It was mine to win at that stage, and I messed up big time. Thankfully, my caddie started to talk me out of it. As I walked he was saying, ‘it’s not over yet, let’s play it out, let’s see what’s happening’.

“After 50 yards, I started listening. By the time I got to my ball, I actually believed him and I got right back into the zone.

“I think that is a rarity in sports, to be in the zone, to be out of the zone, and then go back into it again. I hit a chip shot, my fifth shot, on the 72nd hole like I was a teenager showing off to people. I just fired it in there. When I finally won I knew then I could win majors. I had proven myself.”

Whoever conquers Carnoustie this summer will have certainly shown their worth over this redoubtable links.

The revered Angus course will actually measure 19 yards less than it did the last time it staged the Open in 2007.

“Carnoustie is one of the few courses that doesn’t need anything done to it,” added Harrington. “It’s a championship course whether you turn up in July for the Open or whether you play it in April or October. It needs no protection, it’s just a strong, solid challenge.

“We don’t want it tricked up. It’s a good enough course without anything needing done to it. You don’t need to have tricky pin positions. It’s all there in front of you and that’s the beauty of Carnoustie. The best player will win.”

Watch this space ...