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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Engineer - Powered Access

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They pride themselves that they...

Recruitment Genius: Pharmacy Branch Manager

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This pharmacy group are looking...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence