Harrington to donate winnings to charity

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Padraig Harrington will donate all his prize-money from this week's £3.4m US PGA Championship to breast cancer research in memory of Darren Clarke's wife Heather, who lost her battle against the disease on Sunday.

Harrington was given the sad news as he boarded a plane to Chicago and contemplated flying back home immediately for tomorrow's funeral.

His fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley, a former neighbour of the Clarkes, instantly decided he would stay at home to attend the funeral, but Harrington and others close to the family, like Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn, chose to go.

"Darren made it quite clear he felt the players should go and play and that made our decision a lot easier," Harrington said. "I talked to Paul on Sunday morning and there was no decision on his part. It was not even a question for him. Paul and Abi [McGinley's wife] have been very close to the Clarkes. There are more important things than golf and I think he did the right thing.

"Donating my money makes me feel like I am doing something practical and I'd be delighted to hand over whatever," Harrington said. First prize on Sunday is more than £650,000. "When you go to a funeral you can't be much help anyway. This is at least a practical way of helping.

"I think both Darren and Heather were exceptionally brave and so dignified about what they've gone through. It's been terribly hard. Heather never once complained and they haven't got down. They just struggled on," Harrington said. "Both Darren on the course and Darren and Heather off it were an example to everybody that they were getting on with it. She put up a brave struggle.

"I think Darren's play on the course is only a reflection of Heather's attitude off the course - that she wanted Darren to play.

"Obviously Darren was carrying all of that on to the golf course, all that baggage. He handled himself extremely well and, as I said, I think the way he was, was because Heather was so strong behind him."

McDowell, like Heather from Portrush, admitted he wrestled with his conscience before deciding to following Clarke's advice.

"I was in Orlando last week when I heard. It was terrible news and we all feel for Darren and his family right now," he said. "My mum and dad are quite close to Darren's mum and dad, so I thought, 'Will I go back or will I not?' It was a tough one and I'm sure it was very tough on Lee too as this is a tournament he didn't want to miss."

Westwood, who has partnered Clarke in two Ryder Cups, was in the Bahamas when he was called. "I spoke to Darren yesterday. He wants us to keep playing and I think it's what Heather would have wanted too in the same way that she wanted Darren to keep on playing while she was ill."

McGinley's decision puts in jeopardy his 10th place in the Ryder Cup race with two further events to come, but Harrington said: "I still think he's going to make the team. I don't think there's going to be an issue there."

The Dubliner will return at next week's Bridgestone world championship in Akron, Ohio, and the race ends with the BMW International in Munich.

* Ireland's Labour Court has recommended that greenkeepers at this year's Ryder Cup venue, the K Club in County Kildare, be given a 50 per cent pay rise to avert strike action ahead of the event. Three earlier rounds of talks with mediators failed to resolve a long-running pay dispute. The 36th Ryder Cup, contested between Europe and the United States, starts on 22 September.