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Padraig Harrington to join PGA Tour in 2005

Padraig Harrington is joining the PGA Tour next year, which he hopes will help him win a major on this side of the Atlantic.

While Harrington is one of the top players in Europe, he's heard over and over that his chances at the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship are hampered by his winless record in the United States.

``I don't want anything to take away from winning a major,'' Harrington said. ``I don't want anyone questioning on Saturday whether I can hold up.''

The Irishman intends to play 16 to 18 tournaments in the United States, after entering only four regular Tour events this year. He'll also maintain his schedule on the European Tour, which means he'll likely take part in about 30 tournaments overall.

``I've won plenty of events, but there's still that tag when I come here that I haven't won here,'' he said. ``The only way to get rid of it is to win here.''

Harrington came oh-so-close to his first American victory this year. He was runner-up in the Players Championship, finished fourth at the BellSouth Classic and lost in a playoff at the Buick Classic.

He got into the Tour Championship based on his earnings in the United States, which would have put him in the top 30 if he was a member of the Tour. He didn't contend this week, finishing 11 strokes behind winner Retief Goosen in 14th place.

``I'm happy with my year,'' Harrington said. ``I definitely feel I'm a much stronger player than I was last year.''

He had planned to join the American-based tour for 2004, but the birth of his son, Patrick, put those plans on hold. The youngster is now 14 months old, and his father figures the timing is right.

``It's easier to travel,'' Harrington said. ``If I'm going to do it, I better do it now.''

He won't be moving to the United States. He's comfortable in Dublin and there's plenty of flights to and from Ireland.

``I'll fly out tonight, sleep on the plane and be home tomorrow,'' he said on his way out of East Lake.

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