Fab four on different Major roads
THE ROAD, as ever, for Ireland’s four Major champions leads to wherever the next Major is staged. In this case, it is Royal Lytham and St Annes in less than three weeks’ time and, interestingly, the routes taken by the quartet in their latest quest for glory will all be quite different but, ultimately, with the same goal: to get a hand on the Claret Jug, which is currently in Darren Clarke’s possession.
Clarke and Graeme McDowell are playing in this week’s tour stop, the French Open, before taking next week off; Rory McIlroy is taking a full two-week break before showing up for the British Open at Lytham, while Pádraig Harrington – who, in the Irish Open, continued a seemingly week-in, week-out routine of contending without ending that win drought – has a week off before resuming tournament play at next week’s Scottish Open in final preparation for the big one the following week.
Harrington’s run of form has been impressive of late, but – it would seem – the rewards have been rather hard to come by in terms of an overdue tour win or, indeed, in his upward graph in the world rankings. His seventh-place finish in the Irish Open (coming on the back of a run of tied-13th at the St Jude Classic, tied-fourth at the US Open, tied-11th at the Travelers) still didn’t get him back into the world’s top 50. He is currently ranked 60th.
“If you look at the last four weeks, its quite a fail when it comes to world ranking points. I lost twice the points I got for bogeying the last at the US Open. I need some points. I need a win to make this Ryder Cup team. If I got back into the top 50 for the Bridgestone (in August), that would give me an extra tournament for the Ryder Cup (qualifying). But it’s more a case of getting a win to get into the team,” said Harrington.
With the focus moving ahead to the British Open, Harrington – who conceded that this week away from tournament play after an intensive run was much needed – intends to work only on his short game this week. “My practice this week will all be short game. I can’t see any reason why I would go and hit any golf shots,” he said.
For the most part, apart from the putting which again proved to be something of an Achilles heel, Harrington has played superbly from tee-to-green in this recent four-week stretch of events. “I am hitting the ball, I would think as well as I’ve ever hit it,” he accepted. “There’s a lot of good things happening in my game. My short game is not as tight as it has been in the past and that might be because I am hitting lots more greens and I’m not getting (short game) practice on the golf course. I know I have to make that (area) as sharp as possible and be patient with the putter.”