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US Open 2005
Ernie Els seeking third US Open title
Pinehurt's greens will be key challenge
Reteif Goosen quietly confident of chances
Padraig Harrington says Pinehurst harder than Augusta
Pinehurst will prove to be a tough test
USGA promise a fair test for US Open
Tiger Woods in confident mood
Phil Mickelson returns to a special Pinehurst
Padraig Harrington hoping to break through
Payne Stewart's image on 72nd hole flag
Retief Goosen looking for title defence
Payne Stewart forever linked to Pinehurst
Tiger Woods set on new records
Leading contenders for the 2005 US Open

Padraig Harrington says Pinehurst harder than Augusta

Pinehurst's upturned-saucer greens will provide a sterner test at this week's U.S. Open than the heavily contoured putting surfaces at Augusta National, says Padraig Harrington.

According to the Irish Ryder Cup player, the notorious dome-shaped greens on Pinehurst's No. 2 course pose greater difficulty than those they encounter at the U.S. Masters because of their relatively small size.

"Augusta is definitely a lot more generous than here," the 33-year-old Irishman told a news conference on Tuesday as he prepared for Thursday's opening round.

"The ball ends to sweep into the pins at Augusta.

"Here it's always running away from them. I would say this is very tough.

"I think the greens here are very firm and very small, and the target areas are very small. It's not really like Augusta around the greens.

"There may be little target areas on the green but the ball rolls off them rather than on to them, so there are very small areas to aim at. Anywhere on the actual top surface of the green is all you're looking for."

Harrington, along with Spaniard Sergio Garcia, is Europe's most likely winner this week after producing three top-10 finishes in his last five U.S. Open starts.

However, he played down his victory prospects at Pinehurst despite having become Ireland's first winner on the PGA Tour when he edged out Vijay Singh in a playoff for the Honda Classic in March.

"I don't feel like it's added to my confidence or anything like that," said Harrington.

"I still have my own fears of what I need to do and all that during the week and I'm certainly no more confident going into this U.S. Open than I would be at any time in the past.

"Having said that, though, I was pretty comfortable coming into this year and it was nice to win at the Honda Classic. It came at a good time.

"I suppose deep down there must be some confidence from it."

Harrington, who described his game as "pretty shabby at this stage", added that Pinehurst's rough would be a key factor this week.

"I was here a month ago and there was very light rough and I really enjoyed the course playing that way," he said. "It was a lot of fun.

"Now the rough is three inches and it's as deep as you'd ever want rough to be. It's much more of a test and there's a certain amount of pressure on every tee box to hit the fairway."

The 105th U.S. Open starts on Thursday when South African Retief Goosen defends the title he won by two shots at Shinnecock Hills last year.