Harrington on his Open chances: ‘I can go and win this no doubt’

Ronan MacNamara

Padraig Harrington talking to Irish media

Rónán MacNamara in Royal Liverpool

‘Sorry, I didn’t know I left you guys in the rain,’ jokes a bone dry Pádraig Harrington to the Irish media under the comfort of his large red Wilson umbrella.

The late morning Royal Liverpool rain clatters against the media centre and the scattering of Irish umbrellas creating a mini kaleidoscope of colour surrounding Harrington adjacent to the chipping green.


The faint clips of Matt Fitzpatrick’s chips and the skidding thud of golf balls on the greasy surface provide a soothing percussion as Harrington bullishly talks up his chances of a third Open Championship victory this week.

“I’m playing nicely and the fact I have done it before people will think, OK can I do it again, they know i have the bottle to do it in that sense,” explains the 2007 and 2008 Open champion.

“Physically I’m playing well, mentally I’m getting my head in the game, when you know you’re playing well then you start thinking you have to get your mental game sharp and get your mental game sharp and that’s what I’ve been doing last week and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday this week and hopefully Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and by the time i get there Sunday afternoon I really am in the zone so that’s the focus, getting myself mentally ready, there’s no issue with the physical stuff. I can go and win this, there’s no doubt about it.

“First and foremost you can’t go out there and play somebody else’s game, you go and play your own game, you have to believe that, if that gets me into a position on Sunday where I’m in contention i’m certainly going to create that reality for myself that I can beat anybody down the stretch under pressure.”

The 51-year-old, grouped with Seamus Power and Talor Gooch for the opening 36 holes in Royal Liverpool was in contention at the halfway stage of the Genesis Scottish Open before fading away last weekend but a PGA Tour top-10 and two major championship cuts in 2023 have given him a tonic to compete more on the main tour and changes his schedule.

“The only thing I will change is my schedule going forward, Ronan my caddie said to me you can win a tour event now but you won’t be able to win one in ten years time but you will be able to win a Champions Tour event in ten years so don’t go chasing after Champions Tour events when there are tour events I can go and win,” affirms Harrington.

“You know what, I’m changing my schedule because I can go and win. That’s why I’ve changed my schedule, no other reason. At the end of the day I think myself and Ronan have identified that we keep turning up to events in isolated situations and they then become one-off events.

“You know, I took my card in the US back in the day in order to play the majors and make it familiar when I turn up at a major. You can’t turn up to events and be meeting everybody that you haven’t met for weeks on end and then you’re distracted and talking. So there’s a lot things going on. If you’re going to win tournaments, you’ve got to make it, you know, just normalise it. If I want to win I’ve got to play more regular events, get used to the pin positions and things like that.

“I’m capable of winning so I just have to play a few more of them. And you’re not going to just win one event in isolation, you’ve got to play 10 events and get in contention a few times and get a feel for it and get a flow of the pace of life on tour. So that’s why I’m playing more European Tour events.”

Harrington is in high spirits, laughing off that he has been with his manager Adrian Mitchell longer than he has been married – 28 years – but its another sign of how comfortable the Dubliner is with his game and while he has always longed for one last crack at a major championship there is certainly no sense of desperation to beat Father Time to the punch.
“I’m not trying to higher or lower my expectations, I’m trying to get comfortable with playing my golf. I’m not trying to play above myself, I’m not trying to have a big week, I’m trying to have my own week and see where that leaves me. In some sense I would rather go out there and play my game for the week and come off on Sunday and be able to judge against everybody else. I’m not looking for a magical week, I’m not looking for something special, I’m just looking for me to turn up, play my game and give me a better sense of where I sit in the ranks of golf at the moment.
“People would say ‘you’re playing great golf’ and they look at the physicality and say it looks better than it was back in in 2007 and 2008. It’s obviously different now, it’s different equipment, different balls. The game, some of it physically seems as good or better than back in that day but obviously you’re competing in a different time, it’s a different standard at the moment. Relative to the field I certainly don’t feel like I’m as good as i was in 2007 and 2008 but relative to myself?
“Yeah I’m pretty damn good at the moment compared to back then and well capable of going out and winning any week.”
Harrington lets slip his trademark toothy grin as he tries to keep the details of his earlier conversation with European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald under wraps saying what they talked about was so weird, it wouldn’t look out of place in season two of Full Swing on Netflix.
However, while he acknowledges that he is outside of the frame at present, the picture seems clear in his head in what he needs to do to try and force his way onto the 12-man team in Rome this September.
“Oh yeah [I need to win]. I don’t know. No, you can turn up here and if you nearly won this week, you’ve got to think it would push yourself in there. I’m not in his pick at the moment. I’d have to do something to change his mind when it comes to the the Ryder Cup

“I considered changing the schedule based on Ryder Cup but then if I wasn’t in contention I wasn’t going to change my schedule. I’m now changing my schedule because I’m playing well enough to win. So that’s why I’m changing my schedule.

“As regards Ryder Cup, the likelihood is if I’m going to win I’m probably going to win a bit too late for the Ryder Cup so that’s just the way it is.”

Trust Pádraig Harrington to bring a splash of colour to a dull Tuesday morning at the Open Championship and if the ten-year window that his caddie Ronan Flood pointed out is to be believed, then he might just have more than one major punch left in him.

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