Pádraig Harrington insists the mental side of the game and trusting himself will play a key role in his hopes of winning a third Claret Jug at the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
At 51 years of age, the Dubliner could become the oldest ever major championship winner this week and while he feels physically capable, it’s how much he believes and trusts in his own game being good enough to win under pressure that will determine whether or not he can get over the line for fourth major title.
“It’s all mental. At our level when you get to this stage there would be very few here, nobody is not physically capable of playing golf good enough to win but many of them aren’t mentally capable of being good enough to win,” explained the 2007 and 2008 Open champion.
“That’s why some people would declare that majors are easier to win. From my experience it is about trusting and doing your own thing and being comfortable in your own skin really and that’s it. As I said, it is very much that attitude that if you are here and you think you need your A-Game to win your B-Game will turn up. I
“If you think you need your B-Game to win your A-Game turns up. It doesn’t matter who you are if you try to push yourself out there you are more likely to fail. You just have to trust that your own game is good enough and if you relax into your own game it is likely it is better than you think it is.
“I am getting there. It is not a question of me getting there, it is just about trying to be there. You don’t need to be there. You can be good enough without being there. It is the point you have to trust in your own game and that’s it. You can’t be trying to play somebody else’s game.”
There are six Irishmen in Hoylake this week with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry widely expected to be contenders over the weekend and Harrington gave his thoughts on his fellow countrymen’s prospects.
“Rory can win any week. He’s won on this golf course. It’s an interesting course. It really suits somebody who hits it very straight because there are a lot of lay ups and a lot of treading between bunkers. To that extent Rory has a little bit of an advantage in that some of the trouble he can carry. He always has a driving advantage and will clearly lead strokes gained off the tee as he does every week.
“But I don’t know if this golf course is the one that gives him an incredible advantage this week. I’m not sure because yesterday he carried the bunker on two. But it was a four-iron-pitching wedge. Sometimes when you lay up on these bunkers, you’re hitting another four iron and he could hit driver over the top and hit nine. That’s a big advantage. But we’re hitting pitching wedge, he’s hitting sand wedge or lob wedge.. So I’m not sure if this is, even though he’s won here, I’m not sure if there’s a standout ‘Oh, this is a big advantage to him on this particular golf course’.
“He will just have to play better than everybody else, which is well capable of doing. And Shane obviously loves links golf and is very comfortable with his game at the moment, I think he’s obviously turned the corner a lot in the greens. And I think, yes, he has a win in him at any moment so it could again be his week.
“Shane obviously loves links golf and is very comfortable with his game at the moment. I think he has turned the corner a lot on the greens and any moment he has a win in him any moment as well and it could again be his week.”