Padraig Harrington's embarks on Prague mission

Padraig Harrington's embarks on Prague mission

By Phil Casey

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington is looking to go one better than last year in the D+D Real Czech Masters, which tees off in Prague today.

The Dubliner admits he “thought he had it” when he finished runner-up to Italy’s Andrea Pavan in the 2018 edition of the tournament.

“It was very tight last year, there was a great ebb and flow to that final round,” Harrington said.

“It was exciting, the golf was good, it was low-scoring, so there were birdies as well. There was plenty of drama.

I thought I had it, all the way up to the 69th hole where I missed a short putt and then he holed a big putt on the 70th hole and had a two-shot lead with two holes to play. There weren’t enough holes for me to come back.

Meanwhile, Lee Westwood hopes his relaxed approach will help him land his 25th European Tour title.

Westwood has played just 12 times so far in 2019, partly through choice and partly due to failing to qualify for the Masters and US Open, but he travels to Albatross Golf Resort on the back of his best result of the season after finishing joint fourth in the Open Championship.

The 46-year-old has not played competitively since, but is optimistic about his chances after finishing ninth at the same venue in 2017.

“I played well at Royal Portrush and I’ve had three weeks off since then,” Westwood said.

“I’ve been down to Portugal for a couple of weeks for a holiday with my fiancee and my family and I’m looking forward to getting going again.

“We were saying this morning driving to the airport that it’s nice to be playing again after such a good performance at The Open.

The way I approach tournaments now has changed. I take it less seriously, but I still try my hardest.

“If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, you can only try your best, and that’s what I try and do each time I go to a tournament.

“The last thing I want to do is turn up at a tournament and not want to be there.

“I want to be keen to play at every tournament, I’m 46 now, so it means I can’t play as many. I enjoy it a lot more.”

Speaking about the venue, Westwood added: “It’s a good golf course.

“It’s pretty straightforward, the course has been designed well and shows you where you need to hit it and then it’s up to the individual to execute it.

“There’s a lot of water out there, there’s a lot of risk and reward if you want to take it on. There’s a little bit of rough this year, which will be better for me. It should set up well, and I’m looking forward to it.”

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