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Victory means a lot for Harrington

Padraig Harrington returns to action

Padraig Harrington will return to action Thursday at the Deutsche Bank Players Championship after missing last week's Open Championship because of the death of his father.

Harrington's father had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in March and died last Monday, prompting Harrington to immediately pull out from St. Andrews.

The eighth-ranked Irishman is hoping a return to action at Gut Kaden, where he won two years ago in a playoff against Thomas Bjorn, will help him come to terms with his bereavement.

"I said the week before my dad passed away I would be happy enough to pack the clubs away and leave them for a year," he said Tuesday. "I am not bad when I am on the golf course, but it is hard to get motivated when I am off the golf course to get on."

Harrington turned up a day early at Gut Kaden, even though he is familiar with the course, in an attempt to focus on the tournament.

"It doesn't feel too good at the moment, but hopefully by Thursday it will be OK," he said.

Harrington has won twice this year on the PGA Tour, first at the Honda Classic in March with a final-round 63. The celebration lasted only until he got home and learned his father had inoperable cancer.

Three months later, he took the Barclays Classic at Westchester, N.Y., with a 65-foot eagle putt on the last hole.

"I had one round there to win [the Honda Classic] and a decent week at Westchester, but that's all," Harrington said. "I haven't really performed at all this year. It has been an interesting year and one I wouldn't mind seeing the back of."

Harrington will be joined in the field by European Ryder Cup teammate David Howell of England, who also had to withdraw from St Andrews due to a rib injury suffered during the U.S. Open earlier this season.

Open contenders Jose Maria Olazabal, Retief Goosen and John Daly are also in action and have been promised they will find the course in its best shape ever.

In the winter of 2002, the greens suffered a severe attack of a disease called fusarium and, with the tournament staged in May 2003, did not have time to recover.

As a result, the greens were well below the standard expected of a European Tour venue. But steps have been taken to improve the condition of the course and European Tour Tournament Director David Probyn feels the transformation has been "exceptional."


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