Harrington fights himself

Irishman ignores the Tiger talk to explore the contradictions at the centre of his game

If the build-up to this year's US Open has confirmed anything, it is merely that the game revolves around Tiger Woods with a sun-like dependency. Following a full month of "will he or won't he?" recuperate from knee surgery in time to show up at Torrey Pines this week, there can be no doubting that Woods is the game's life force. When he decides to call it a day and stops turning, then so too, in all probability, will the world of golf.

Naturally not everyone subscribes to this theory, although most do, and they form the majority who see the obvious dangers in such an over-reliance. Take this from Dan Jenkins, the doyen of American golf writers, who let loose on the subject last week and, as is his brilliant way, so spoke up for many of the cowering observers.

"The best thing about the majors is that they're important no matter what," said the Golf Digest Illustrated columnist. "They make more sense when Jack Fleck doesn't win, but they're still historic and important. I don't give a shit whether Tiger recovers from his knee or not, frankly. You'd think he was the only guy who ever had a knee, a baby, or a dead father."

You would never find a fellow professional uttering such a sacrilege (not, that is, if they were keen to avoid a Tiger grudge that would last longer than that of your average Corleone). Yet it is surely unarguable that a good number of the unfulfilled multimillionaires making their way out to San Diego today would agree with Jenkins.

In fact they could take the bemoaning that step further, for they cannot win this week whatever happens. Imagine it: you turn up at what just may prove to be the toughest major course in history (7,600 yards long and every single hole a monster), play the four rounds of your life and what do they all whisper – if not yell out in extra-large-type headlines – when you pick up the Championship trophy? "Well done and all that. But you wouldn't have won it if Tiger had been fit."

The guardians of the record books may as well stick an asterisk next to your name. And therein lies the beauty andthe beast of Tiger; even his fallibility can be a distraction

But again, not everyone subscribes to this theory. Take Padraig Harrington, who would give about as much thought to that damned asterisk as he did to the one that some dolts insisted on appending when the Irishman capitalised on Sergio Garcia's supposed capitulation at Carnoustie last year. Yes, the Open champion has a way of coping with all the talk, all the hype, all the Tiger this and the Tiger that – and that is to ignore it.

"The battle very much is with me," said this complex soul. "You just can't start worrying what Tiger Woods is up to. If somebody else has a good week then they might be the best player in the world that week. A guy playing well versus Tiger playing average is going to win, as it has been proved. So worry about one player – and one player only – yourself."

Wise words. Yet on the face of it, Harrington has plenty to worry about himself. Going into this weekend's Stanford St Jude Championship in Memphis, his form was such that he looked about as likely to break Europe's 38-year barren run in the US Open as he did of being appointed as the chief spokesman in the Campaign for Brevity.But, typically, Harrington hasan explanation.

"Right from about 16 years of age, I've never been able to string any results or form together in May, never," said the 36-year-old. "I've won one tournament in 20 years in that period. It used to be the time I did exams when I was an amateur, so it was a case of shut away the clubs and get down to some studying. It would be interesting to go back through my records at Wentworth, and tournaments like that, I'vealways struggled.

"Also, at the start of the year you're keen and then you get into this period of time in the year when you get all mixed up in what you are trying to do and you don't have the same clarity of focus. But hopefully the US Open, I'm building up for it. I don't feel like there is anything particularly out of shape. I just need to be a bit more trusting with myself and work on my concentration."

In Padraig-speak that means he is up for it. Or actually it doesn't. Which means that he is. "When I am confident I don't tend to do well for some reason," he reasoned. "But when I'm not confident or perhaps struggling a little bit, I tend to come out and do really well. Yeah, I tend to play better when I am on my lowest form, rather than on my best form." They always say you have to be slightly mad to win a US Open. Then look no further than Padraig. Tiger or no Tiger.

Euro stars in with a shout

Sergio Garcia

Many will regard it as laughable to believe the fiery Spaniard will not boil over on the lightning Californian greens. He displayed new-found confidence with the putter in victory at The Players Championship last month. The short-game guru Stan Utley could just have worked his finest miracle.

Justin Rose

Showed his – by now – legendary recovery powers to bounce back from a torrid run of form to finish second at last week's Memorial. The Englishman has everything that a professional needs to win a US Open, apart perhaps from the winning touch. This could be the week that changes that.

Miguel Angel Jiminez

"The Mechanic" has a US Open runner-up placing to his popular name, yet what stands the Spaniard in even better stead is his form at Wentworth when he prevailed in last month's BMW PGA Championship. Time is against the 44-year-old. But very little else seems to be when he is on a roll like this.

James Corrigan

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam