Harrington rues missed title chances
Defending Dunhill Links champion Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday that his obsession with improving his swing may have cost him the chance of winning more tournaments.
Despite climbing to number nine in the world rankings, the Irishman with a reputation for practising as hard as anyone in the game has won only seven tour events since turning professional in 1995.
"I have been obsessed with my swing for the past five years," he told a news conference the day before beginning his defence of the Dunhill Links Championship.
"Sometimes that has been to the detriment of individual tournaments," added Harrington, who may have concentrated so hard on his swing that at times he lost focus on the tournament itself.
The 32-year-old Harrington, who recently became a father for the first time, said it had always been his plan to put in plenty of practice early in his career.
"Hopefully, in the future I won't have to work so hard," he said. "I will have a low-maintenance golf swing and will be able to spend more time with the family.
"As you get older, you won't have to work so hard. Now it seems like your mid-30s is your peak time as a professional golfer."
Harrington, whose favourite driver broke last week to give him another problem to work on, thinks his victory in last year's Dunhill Links Championship, when he edged out Argentine Eduardo Romero in a playoff, was one of his most significant.
"I hadn't won for a while and it gave me a great sense of accomplishment," he said. "I wasn't swinging the club very well but I just wanted to win so badly, to get the job done by any means."
South African Ernie Els, the world number two, heads a strong field this year, including world number three Vijay Singh, former major winners Nick Price, Nick Faldo and Jose Maria Olazabal, seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie and U.S. PGA champion Shaun Micheel.
American Micheel, however, is not confident of making a big impression on his first trip to Britain.
"My expectations for the week are pretty low," he said. "It's so different from the golf I'm used to back in the United States. It's hard to appreciate the type of golf you play over here until you stand on the first tee."
The 34-year-old, whose surprise U.S. PGA Championship triumph at Oak Hill last month was the first tour victory of his career, struggled in a practice round at Carnoustie on Tuesday.
"Carnoustie beat me up," he said. "I don't know where to hit the ball yet and I don't think three practice rounds is enough."
But Micheel added that the chance to play at St Andrews was one he could not turn down.
"When the opportunity came ,I jumped at it," he said. "How often do you get the chance to play at the home of golf?"
The winner will collect $800,000 on Sunday, one of the largest prizes in world golf.
Harrington enjoys the format of the tournament played on three different courses, St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
The professionals are also paired with amateurs, who this year include film star Samuel L Jackson, model Jodie Kidd, Australia cricketer Shane Warne and former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
The amateurs have a separate competition.
"This is a bit of a show, it's not just a golf tournament," Harrington said. "You can have a bit of fun out on the course and my character suits this format."
Harrington admitted, though, to a touch of stage fright when seeing the actor Hugh Grant in the lift of his hotel.
"I had met him before but I didn't think he would remember me so I didn't say anything," Harrington said. "But it's brilliant to see these guys in real life."
This years news archive | Email
this page to a friend | Return to top of page