Titles, not money, motivating Harrington

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON has long since ceased to worry about money but that doesn’t prevent the inquisitive Irish from speculating on just how much he might be worth.

The question arose here again yesterday following last week’s announcement that he had signed a new three-year club contract with Wilson Sport for a figure believed to be approximately €10 million over three years. One doesn’t need to be an accountant — which, of course, happens to be the field in which he qualified before turning pro — to estimate Harrington’s on-course earnings to be close on €30m and his contracts as a three-time major champion to be treble that amount.

When the subject was raised here yesterday, Padraig admitted: “I am in the great position of being very much focused on titles. Titles first, with majors at the top, followed by the world rankings. Thankfully, throughout my career, I’ve been motivated by going out there and winning and the financial stuff follows. And that is definitely the best way to go about it.”

Harrington is in Valderrama for the final event on the 2008 European Tour. He is second in the rankings, 297,450 points behind Sweden’s Robert Karlsson. Winning this week’s final Volvo Masters means he would land the order of merit for the second time in three years.

Since winning the US PGA in memorable fashion in August, much of the sheen went off Harrington’s game. He was a pale shadow of his self during the three tournaments he played in the US immediately before the Ryder Cup while he looked drained and jaded on the final night at Valhalla and admitted then that: “the end of the year can’t come quickly enough”.

However, after some badly needed R&R, he now looks fresh and fit, and confirmed his well-being.

“I’m a lot better than I would have been six weeks or so ago,” he said. “I have been coming back to full strength and I’m interested in getting out there. My focus is good and I’m keen to be back out playing golf. Some of that is because I can see the end of the season in three weeks time.”

After Valderrama, he moves on to China for the HSBC Champions event next week and after that it’s the Singapore Open. For now, though, his full concentration is on the Volvo Masters and the order of merit.

“I would like to win the order of merit but I’m not leading it at the moment,” he pointed out. “It would not bother me greatly if it didn’t happen. But it would be nice… there’s a number of guys who have played very well this year and because of that, it would be nice to come out on top. Robert has played excellently and Lee (Westwood) has come back into form so that makes it a good year to win it. Whoever wins it on Sunday has earned it.”

Even Karlsson has admitted that it would feel strange for him to claim the Harry Vardon Trophy considering Harrington has captured two major championships this year. But the Irish star, who has played only 13 counting tournaments against 22 by Karlsson and 20 by Westwood, refuses to see things in that light.

“I haven’t played enough events to put myself out there,” he admitted.

“And in the events I did play, I didn’t show the form that I showed in the States. Robert has performed more consistently in Europe throughout the year. Consistency is what an order of merit is all about.”

And then he grinned and commented: “He probably deserves it but that doesn’t mean he gets it. We have to wait until Sunday to sort that out.”


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