European No. 1 Harrington sets sights on HSBC
star Padraig Harrington, who claimed the coveted 2006 European Tour
Order of Merit title at the weekend, is already looking for a flying
start to his 2007 campaign at the HSBC Champions next week.
Harrington squeezed past last years HSBC Champions winner
David Howell and 2006 HSBC World Match Play Champion Paul Casey
to secure his place at the top of the rankings for the first time
by finishing in second place at the Volvo Masters in Spain behind
Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.
The Irishman, who also won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Scotland
last month, said: This has been a big goal of mine down the
years. When I started I would have been happy to be a journeyman,
finishing 75th every year.
"So to have won the Order of Merit makes me very proud and
hopefully I can keep going forward and can carry the flag of European
Number One well for a year. Who knows? Maybe I can come back better
and stronger and win it again!
"I am already looking forward to the HSBC Champions as a win
there would be the perfect start to the 2007 race and it would be
very special to win the Champion of Champions title."
Casey and Howell, who were placed one and two on the European Tour
Order of Merit ahead of the Volvo Masters, saw their campaigns blighted
by a stomach illness and shoulder injury respectively and both will
be looking forward to a fresh start at the HSBC Champions.
Casey will be going for the HSBC double, aiming to hold both HSBC
titles in one calendar year while Howell hopes to defend a title
which last year saw him take home the biggest cheque of his career.
The field will be the strongest ever seen in China with 10 of the
worlds top-20 players already confirmed including world number
one Tiger Woods, the second-ranked Jim Furyk, two-time US Open winner
Retief Goosen, and Harrington's European Ryder Cup teammates Colin
Montgomerie and Luke Donald.
The international field is represented by over 20 countries and
is the only tournament where winners from around the world are rewarded
with an invitation to compete against the worlds leading players
for the largest prize fund on offer in Asia at US$5 million.
The HSBC Champions will be played at the Sheshan International Golf
Club with winners from four leading golf tours and the top 50 on
the Official World Golf Ranking qualifying. The event is co-sanctioned
by The European Tour, Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the
Sunshine (Southern Africa) Tour and the China Golf Association.
October 31, 2006