Golf: Happy returns for Harrington

Andy Farrell talks to an Irish golfer determined to live up to his potential

Of course, being an Irish player at the Irish Open is not quite like being Tiger Woods, but it is not far off it. Not since John O'Leary in 1982 has a home player survived the high levels of expectations and hospitality which are poured on them, and occasionally down their throats, to win the event.

This is not something Padraig Harrington, like the sponsors Murphy's, is bitter about. It is just a matter of finding a way to cope with it this week at Druids Glen. "I'm going to try something new this year," he said. "Do you block it all out, or do you enjoy the week? I'm going to try and strike a happy balance. Do the right amount of work to play well, but then enjoy the social side as well. I'll keep my time at the golf course to a minimum.

"There is no way you can treat it like just another tournament. It is difficult not to get caught up in the hype. All the Irish golfers have a lot of demands, even just simple things like getting tickets for all the family and friends who want to be there. This is only my second Irish Open. In 10 years, I'll probably still be saying that I'm trying a new tack this time."

Harrington arrived at last year's Irish Open having already won a tournament in a highly impressive start to his rookie season. He missed the cut. That was only a blip, however, and his 11th place on the money earned him a trip to the US Open earlier this month. Struck by flu early in the week, the 25-year-old Dubliner again missed the cut.

But he gained some valuable lessons, including a first-hand experience of Tigermania. "I was on the putting green when he came on to it. Suddenly, the crowds were 10 deep and they were hooping and hollering. After about 10 minutes, I had to leave because of the suffocating heat. There was no air getting on to the putting green. He says he feels tired after a tournament, but playing one tournament for him is like playing three tournaments for us."

Harrington, who waited to complete his accountancy exams before turning professional at the age of 24, has noted how Woods and the senior European players go about peaking for the majors. After the Irish, comes the World Invitational at Loch Lomond and the Open Championship, where he was 18th last year, in quick succession. "I found it easier to peak for an event when I was an amateur," said the former Irish champion and three-time Walker Cupper.

"I knew exactly which tournaments I wanted to play well in. There was only about one a month and all the tournaments beforehand were warm-ups. As a pro, you play every week and try to play your absolute, 100 per cent best whenever you are on the golf course. Some weeks you'll play well, and the next week it will not be so good because of the fact that you tried so hard the week before."

At the start of the year, Harrington played 10 weeks in a row, in such far-flung places as Australia, South Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe, an experiment he will not repeat. Since then, he has tried to play three out of every four weeks.

"It is difficult because all the tournaments are quality events and there may be a week you want to take off, but it is a course you like and did well at last year. I'd love to be playing in the French Open this week, to be out there competing, but I didn't want to go into the Open playing four weeks in a row.

"The hardest thing for a young professional to do is take a week off when you are playing well. The experienced pros are more disciplined about setting their schedule and sticking to it. Langer won back-to-back at the Italian and the B & H and then took the next week off. Most professionals would think, 'This is my good run, I've got to keep playing'."

Like Woods, Harrington tries to keep his goals out of the public arena. He does not need to be told that at 17th in the Ryder Cup table, a win any time soon would put him in the frame to join the Ulsterman Darren Clarke at Valderrama in September. It is not something he talks much about either.

"I've had a solid year, without having done anything spectacular yet. I'm 18th on the Order of Merit, without a really streaky patch of form. But it's interesting that from what a couple of people have said to me, that people were expecting a couple of wins, or another win, contending in majors. You have to keep it realistic. I had an exceptional year last year, but if I keep going this way, maybe improve on it, it'll still be a decent year."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?