Irish Open: success of fellow champions puts Padraig Harrington at ease
Padraig Harrington has admitted the recent major success of Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy has eased pressure on him ahead of the Irish Open this week.
All three Irish golfers will compete in the event in Killarney but home focus on Harrington has diminished, this year at least, after McIlroy claimed the US Open and Clarke won the Open.
Asked whether the pressure on him had eased, Harrington replied: “I think so, coming into the event. I’m not as stressed as I would be coming into my national Open in other years. I’m probably bringing some other stress with me but the stress of having to win this, no.”
Harrington, a former Irish Open champion, explained that different burden. “I’d just like to win a tournament, it has been eight months or so,” said the three-times major winner. “It would be nice to have a good performance, that’s my own personal stress. Besides me, there’s not many external factors worrying me.”
He paid tribute to Clarke, the unexpected Open winner earlier this month. The pair competed at amateur level two decades ago, when Harrington admitted he was “in awe” of his compatriot.
“I played against Darren in 1990 in his last year as an amateur, my first year as a senior amateur, and he was the man. His game blew everybody away in the amateur scene that year. He was leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else.
“As much as winning a major has capped off a great career, I don’t believe up to that his career lacked anything. He had many wins around the European Tour and a great career. Now that he has a major, yes, it’s nice to put in his CV but he had a very successful career up to that. Where a major might have been missing, I don’t think you could have held that against him.”
However, Harrington believes he can upstage Clarke and McIlroy in this tournament. “I’m very happy about where my game is at. I’m not sure whether it will turn up this week but I am very positive.”