Harrington, Clarke to take on elite in Kilkenny

 

Padraig Harrington has been paired with Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke with world number two Phil Mickelson in the first round of the American Express World Championship at Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny on Thursday.

It comes as no surprise to find the two Irish players in the 65-strong field given star billing in the draw for this country's first world championship event and what is their final warm-up tournament for next week's Ryder Cup.

There are four pairings which could be repeated in the singles at The Belfry on Sunday week as Swede Niclas Fasth plays with Scott Hoch and Spaniard Sergio Garcia is with Davis Love.

Harrington had his first taste of playing with Woods at the 1999 Ryder Cup in Boston, losing on the final green of the second day foursomes with Miguel Angel Jimenez against Woods and Steve Pate.

They also played together at the US Open last year, but they were both down the field then and it was a much more high profile clash this June when they went out as the final pair in the third round at Bethpage.

World number one Woods led all the way there and claimed his eighth major title, while Harrington came home in eighth place.

Ten of America's side next week and seven of Europe's are in the American Express line-up.

Colin Montgomerie plays with Justin Leonard, who failed to keep his place in the United States team after being their 17th green hero three years ago.