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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Pádraig Harrington will go into the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on Thursday mindful of the hazards of too much success as he continues his preparations for next week’s British Open.
The two-time Claret Jug winner is this season approaching a return to the form that landed him successive British Open titles at Carnoustie and Birkdale in 2007 and ’08 having secured two top-10 finishes at the opening Majors of the year.
The Irishman returns to action at Castle Stuart Golf Links near Inverness this week after a well-earned break following a four-tournament run that included a fourth-place finish at the US Open, a tie for seventh at the Irish Open and two further top-15 finishes on the PGA Tour.
Harrington is still waiting for his first European Tour victory since his 2008 PGA Championship triumph at Oakland Hills — the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open win in Malaysia coming before it was an official Tour event — and though he is not expecting to wait too much longer for a return to the winner’s enclosure, the week before an energy-consuming Major may not necessarily be the time to do it.
"I don’t need to win a tournament. I need to be in contention. I’ve done that the last couple of weeks and hopefully I can do that," he said.
"Being in contention is the same, your mind is going the same way. If anything, winning the Scottish Open would make it harder the following week because winning takes a lot out of you. There’s a big high to it and obviously a low follows it.
How many guys, like [Irish Open winner] Jamie Donaldson [last] week, missing the cut in France? Very rarely does a guy play well two weeks in a row; as in mostly they miss the cut. Unless they are very seasoned, experienced players — they tend to handle it better."
Harrington, of course, is as experienced as they come and not afraid to challenge the conventions of form, so a victory this Sunday would not be faced with dread.
"Winning the Scottish Open, it would have its plusses, no doubt about it. And if I win the Scottish Open, I would be telling you exactly the reason why it’s going to help me win the [British] Open. But being in contention, playing well, that’s nice going into a Major. But I’ve shown enough form over the last couple of weeks that I would be able to carry the Scottish Open whether it goes good or bad for me. If it doesn’t go well for me this week, I’ll be able to discount it. If it goes well, well, I’d say that shows more of the same."
Either way, the Dubliner, refreshed from a week off following his last four-week run, will be trying to conserve as much energy in his preparations as possible ahead of a gruelling week at Royal Lytham & St Annes, when he’ll bid for a third British Open crown.
"I’m wary of doing anything too strenuous," Harrington said during a conference call last Friday. "One of the biggest things I’m trying to do now is, as much as I’m trying to recover this week, I’m also trying to make sure I don’t relapse and take too much out of myself next week so that I’m not on the back foot when I get to the [British] Open."
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