Padraig Harrington is raring to go again at the KLM Open following his best performance on the European Tour for nearly two years on his last start in the Czech Republic.
The three-time Major Champion, whose last victory came at the Portugal Masters in October of 2016, was in contention right up until the end of the D+D REAL Czech Masters and narrowly missed out on adding to his 15 European Tour titles after a back nine birdie blitz from eventual champion Andrea Pavan.
Fresh from a two-week break, the Dubliner, who claimed second place outright in Prague, returns to action at The Dutch feeling rejuvenated and satisfied with where his game is at.
“I was very happy with my form there,” said Harrington of his superb showing in Prague. “Two weeks off can be good and bad – it’s nice to have a rest and to get some practice going.”
“I was very happy with my game all of the way through which was very solid. It does bring confidence and to do well in tournaments it’s not always about how you are hitting the ball but more how you’re going out and playing in a competitive environment and playing well – it does bring some confidence for the rest of the season.”
Harrington now fully intends to take that encouragement a step further starting tomorrow on a track he expects to yield a similar amount of birdie chances to that of his Czech Masters exploits.
“It’s a fine course which is in very good condition so we can expect to see some very good scoring this week on a good solid golf course,” he added.
Harrington is playing alongside some familiar company too in fellow Ryder Cup Vice Captain Lee Westwood, who also arrives in The Netherlands in fine form having finished as a runner-up himself in Denmark a fortnight ago.
“I played really well here last year and had a chance to win – so I am looking forward to this week,” said Westwood. “It’s a nice golf course, it was very wet last year, but it is a very good design and let’s hope the sun comes out.
“I’ve always played well in this event. I won around Hilversumsche which is a very tight tree-lined course in 1999. It is very different to here, but it is always nice to come back to a country where you’ve won before as it always gives you a good feeling.
“My game is good. I am trying to roll a few more putts in and I’m starting to shape the ball a lot better – I’m starting to flight the ball a lot better too. Last week I gave myself opportunities to get into the tournament but I lost momentum at certain times – I played 14 and 15, the two par fives, really poorly and that’s what cost me having a chance.”
Set to defend the title he memorably won in 2017 is Romain Wattel, who triumphed by one shot on his 187th European Tour appearance, at The Dutch, 12 months ago.
The Frenchman is one of seven former KLM Open champions in the field this week alongside Westwood, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher, Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson. No doubt there’ll be a few names hoping to prove a point to European Ryder Cup Team Captain Thomas Bjorn through their performances too having been overlooked for selection ahead of Paris. Plenty of reasons to tune in then!