Harrington: Masters the toughest

Harrington: Masters the toughest

Padraig Harrington goes for an incredible three majors in a row next week rating Augusta National as the ultimate test for a golfer.

“I rate it incredibly highly,” said the Open and US PGA champion.

“The Open is very close to my heart, but, in terms of sternness of test and ability to play golf, if you can win The Masters you can really play this game.

“Whenever I’m practising I’m always thinking ’Is this up to the standard that will get me around Augusta?’

“If it is that means it would cover any golf course. If you can play Augusta you can play anywhere.

“You’re not going to win by luck. You’re going to be on top of your game and you’re going to have the ability to play golf in all departments of your game.

“You’re not going to get away with just being a good putter or a good chipper or a good driver. You have to have all departments that week.

“You’ve got to be in top form with your putter to be in contention because you’re going to get some difficult putts.

“Strategy is probably the biggest play at Augusta, certainly the biggest difference in Augusta from all other golf courses.

“You see courses where every player will hit the same club off each tee and every player will hit to the same pins and whatever. Augusta it all changes.

“When to go at a pin, when not to, where is the place to play safe, it gives you so many options that you’ve got to be right on top of your mental game that week.

“I think the two things are to putt well and to make the right decisions. If I do those two things I know I’ll have a good week.”

Even if his build-up form has not been stellar Harrington has to draw huge strength from what happened at Birkdale and Oakland Hills last summer.

“It’s nice that I am going for three in a row. It means I did something right in the last two majors.

“But I’m not going to this major and thinking it has to happen. I’m working on the principle that there are a number of major championships ahead of me.

“If I can win some of them that’s fair enough. If you said to me I was going to miss the cut at this Masters and win the Masters next year I’d be very happy with that.

“If it happens it will be a bonus, but I’m not going to put any pressure on my ability to win this one. A lot of my rhetoric and talk is about trying to manage this as a stand-alone event.”

When he became the first European since Tommy Armour in 1931 to win back-to-back majors Harrington had centre stage to himself.

Things have changed in the run-up to Augusta – and Harrington could not be more pleased about that.

“Tiger is back playing, Phil (Mickelson) is obviously playing great golf, you’ve got Rory McIlroy taking a lot of the attention at home in Ireland and in Britain, you’ve got Retief Goosen back in form, you’ve got Greg Norman sentimentally coming back.

“All of this is helping take a little bit of the attention away from me. It means that I can get back to doing my thing and get back to a little bit of normality in my preparation.”

And that preparation includes playing the traditional par three competition next Wednesday – with his five-year-old son Patrick as caddie – and trying to win it for a third time.

No par three winner has ever gone on to win the tournament proper four days later, but Harrington’s intention is to do just that.

“I’m starting a campaign to end superstitions forever,” he stated.

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