Harrington prepared to go all the way at Hoylake
Dubliner’s preparatory work as meticulous as ever as he seeks British Open glory
Pádraig Harrington waits on a green during his practice round yesterday ahead of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
His attention to detail is akin to that of number crunchers and legal eagles going through due diligence. Nothing is left to chance. Pádraig Harirngton, on the 18th green here at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where it will all end come Sunday evening, is taking putts from all angles and studiously putting the details into a yardage book.
It’s his third book of the Hoylake links: there is one which dates back to the 2006 British Open and another from a reconnaissance trip he paid a few weeks back.
Golfing bibleBy the time he tees off in the first round, details from all three will have been copied into one, a golfing bible for the next four days. It’s a task he claims will require the most effort of all his preparatory work.
For Harrington, this is a somewhat unusual week. It is his first Major of the year – having failed to get into the fields for either the US Masters or the US Open – and you have to go back to 1999 since that last happened.
Harrington watched those two championships on television, as Bubba Watson ran away from his pursuers in Augusta and Martin Kaymer did the same at Pinehurst, and admits he had that wish-I-was-there feeling.
“It was so tough sitting both of them out and I’ve had to make an effort not to make a big deal out of this one because I missed the first two.
“I’ve done my preparations. These are quite special, there are only two (the British and the US PGA) for me this year, so you want to get it right.”
Harrington’s last win, believe it or not, on a main tour came with his US PGA triumph of 2008. Although his form this season has been poor, with just one top-10 in 18 tour appearances on the European and US Tours, Harrington – the last player to win back-to-back Claret Jugs when triumphing in 2007 and 2008 – is ready and willing to step back onto the big stage.
As he puts it, “I’m certainly not going to win one with my B game, or if things aren’t going for me . . . . it’s well within my capabilities to win it. You’ve got to take the attitude that you’ve got to turn up mentally ready Thursday through to Sunday so that if your game turns up, they’ll marry up, rather than pressing to get your game ready and all of a sudden you’re mentally ready.”
Dr Bob Rotella, the sports psychologist who works with Harrington, knows his player has what he calls “grit.” As Rotella describes it, “he’s tougher than nails, no question about that. That a big part of sport, his ability to rebound . . . . he’s got that grit about him, a resiliency, a love with bouncing back and with fighting. It’s almost like that’s a real kick.”