Harrington faces crucial Texas test as Masters moves closer

Pádraig Harrington’s Valero Texas Open performance is now absolutely crucial with now just eight rounds remaining if he’s to qualify for the Masters next month.

Harrington faces crucial Texas test as Masters moves closer

Harrington is among 144 players teeing-up in today’s $6.2m (€4.5m) event on the JW Marriott TPC San Antonio course.

Just 15 members of the field are in the Masters and along with Harrington, who is also among seven past Major winners who have not qualified, are fighting for the two remaining Augusta invitations.

However, the Irishman remains upbeat despite having arrived on Monday from Orlando with the excess baggage of a final round 80 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend.

“I’m fine and I’m looking forward to a new challenge on a golf course where I played pretty good last year,” he said.

Harrington was very much at home as he competed in yesterday’s Pro-Am, wrapped-up in woollens and rain gear to combat the cold along with strong winds and driving rain lashing the course for near on an hour.

“I know from last year it gets windy here so with the forecast not that good this week, the conditions could suit me this week,” he said.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell believes Europe’s players will start the EurAsia Cup with “all guns blazing” when the inaugural contest gets under way in Kuala Lumpur today.

The European side, captained by Miguel Angel Jimenez, are odds-on favourites to beat Thongchai Jaidee’s Asian team in a contest overshadowed by a bitter dispute involving the family of the late Seve Ballesteros and the European and Asian Tours.

The row has developed because the EurAsia Cup effectively usurps the Royal Trophy, a team contest between Asia and Europe played since 2006 that was Ballesteros’ brainchild and run by his company.

The Royal Trophy was initially approved by the European Tour but business relations between the Tour and Ballesteros’ family firm, Amen Corner, have since deteriorated.

Ballesteros’ family were furious that European Tour chief executive George O’Grady claimed Ballesteros would have “cherished” the new contest, releasing a letter from the five-time major winner to the Asian Tour – sent in 2010, a year before his death from brain cancer – urging them not to copy the Royal Trophy.

Portrush native McDowell said yesterday: “The European team is strong and the Asian team on paper does not look as good as Europe but they have the advantage out here with the climate and the golf course set-up and I think it’s going to be a really good weekend.”

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