The task is clear for Pádraig Harrington in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, win and pray.
Harrington kept his faint Schwab Cup hopes alive with a fourth place finish at last week’s Timbertech Championship and he knows he must win this week and hope his playing partner Steven Alker finishes outside the top-5.
It is an interesting dynamic with the pair vying for top spot playing together for the first two rounds and the Dubliner feels if Alker is firing on all cylinders it will spur him on.
“I know what I have to do, but my side of it to win obviously is pretty clear, but I don’t really have any control over Steven’s side. His top-5 is clear for him,” said Harrington.
“Yeah, it would be a bit awkward playing the first day. You never want to be watching somebody else’s game and you certainly, when it comes to golf, you’re always better off playing with momentum and you want momentum in your group, so you want your playing partner to play well and hole putts. So that’s an interesting one that I’ll be wishing him well for the first 18 holes just because selfishly it also helps me play well.”
The championship will be played over 72 holes like the senior major championships, something which Harrington feels will suit him having won the US Senior Open and come second to Darren Clarke in the Senior Open.
The three-time major winner struggled for confidence last week on a course he admitted didn’t suit his eye but there should be no such problems this time around as he looks to win the Schwab Cup in his first full season on the Champions Tour.
‘For me, I think being in contention a lot means that I’m focused on the good things in golf, my routine, my focus, my mental game, whereas I think if you’re — you know, if you’re one or two shots back, you generally blame like I wasn’t quite into that tee shot or I didn’t have my head in the game on that particular shot, whereas if you’re five or six shots back, you tend to blame your swing. Most weeks I’m pretty close. I’m disciplined. It’s a mental task and you usually play your best golf when you feel like that.’
Before teeing it up this season Schwab Cup leader Alker had only pocketed $2 million, he has doubled his PGA Tour career earnings on the Champions Tour already this term and Harrington was full of praise for the New Zealander.
“Steven’s done great. He’s been a solid player all his career but maybe held back a little bit with length. He’s kept himself fit and strong, so he’s probably hitting the ball as far as he’s ever hit it now. He’s come out here, you know, that’s not a hindrance on this tour for him anymore.
“Clearly he’s probably hitting his run in golf. He’s having a real great run over the two years. He’s very comfortable out here, he’s playing well. He’s always been a good, solid player and I think he’s probably putting quite well on top of that. He’s gotten comfortable out here and he’s doing well because of it.”