Harrington ready to show head for heights

Three-time Major champion relishing high-altitude challenge at Crans-sur-Sierre

Padraig Harrington: five years without a European Tour title. Photograph: Getty Images

Padraig Harrington: five years without a European Tour title. Photograph: Getty Images

Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 08:34

It might be 13 years since Padraig Harrington last played in the Omega European Masters, but the Irish man is relishing his return to one of the European Tour’s most picturesque venues.

The three-time Major champion last visited Crans-sur-Sierre in 2000. And while the renowned festival feel in the Swiss mountains remains the same, he has discovered plenty of changes to the course in the intervening years.

“Clearly it is right up there as the most beautiful venue we play tournament golf at around the world,” said Harrington. “It is a beautiful place . . . Secondly, it always has a great atmosphere here. The course is in the centre of the town and everyone seems to be into their golf here. You walk around the town and there are three caddie carts outside the pub because they haven’t made it home.

“It reminds you of home because a lot of links courses at home are like that, where the clubhouse is nearly in the town and everyone, even if they don’t play, is involved.”

Off the course
While the 42-year-old is enjoying matters off the course this week, he knows there is plenty to be done on it after five years without a European Tour title. And he feels he has a good idea of what is required if he is to end that run in Switzerland.

“Two six unders and two two unders would be pretty close,” he added. “It’s really hard. There are some short holes, but there is a lot of difficultly around the greens. The condition of the course is immaculate and there is a substantial difference in the quality and condition of the course from back when I played it.”

Also in the field this week is 13-year-old Chinese amateur Ye Wo-cheng, who will become the youngest player to tee it up on European soil. Ye played earlier this season in the Volvo China Open as a 12-year-old, setting a new record for the youngest player in a European Tour event, but he is determined just to enjoy the occasion this week.

Stiff competition
“I’m feeling a little nervous as I’m aware that I’m the youngest player in the field this week,” said Ye. “But I tell myself to always stay focus and be relaxed. I just want to do my best and not give myself any pressure.”

Harrington will face competition from last year’s winner, Richie Ramsay of Scotland, and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, making his 25th successive appearance in the tournament.