Harrington to win major before Clarke says Harmon

Darren Clarke has more talent, but Butch Harmon reckons that Padraig Harrington can win the race to become a Major champion.

He revealed: “Padaig has the better demeanour or mental strength to win a Major than Clarke does.  I think Clarke has tremendous more talent and I think Clarke is a better player. But having said that, Padraig really has a much stronger mental game than Darren has. 

“Darren is a better player. He has more shots and hits the ball further. But Padraig is much, much stronger mentally.”

The American coach believes that both men have a great chance of breaking into the winner’s circle in the US Open at windy Shinnecock Hills in three weeks’ time 

But unless Clarke becomes more patient on the course, his money is on Harrington to come through and grab that elusive Major.

He added: “If you look at Shinnecock this year I think that your Padraig Harrington has got to be one of the favourites.

“Darren is a unique animal. He has unbelievable talent and the quality of his golf shots has got so much better in recent years. 

“But Darren’s biggest hurdle he has to overcome is patience. He is not a patient person in life and he is not patient on the golf course. And to win a Major championship you have got to have patience. 

“We’ve talked about this and he is getting better at it. But for me that is the only thing that is holding Darren Clarke back from winning Majors. 

“I think there is more than one Major in him. He has the talent to win a Major on any type of course. He drives the ball well, he’s long and the worse the conditions get the better he plays.”

Yet despite all that, Harmon believes that Harrington’s unbelievable work ethic gives him the edge over the Dungannon man. 

“Who will be first to win one? I think Padraig Harrington is the most improved player in the world, without a doubt. Six years ago nobody knew who the hell he was. 

“But like I preached last year about Mickleson, you have to get much smarter. You have to play golf smart to win a Major. 

“With Darren Clarke patience is not his nature. If you look at his lifestyle, he is very impulsive and impatient. But he has worked hard at it and done a pretty good job of it. 

“He’s a lot more patient on the golf course than he has ever been but to win a Major he’s got to get more patient. 

“Obviously Darren wants it. Look at the job he has done with his body. He has lost 45 lbs and that takes a lot of mental discipline - to lose the weight to keep it off. It shows that he is going in the right direction.”

But Harmon revealed that Clarke’s poor play a the start of the season had his new star pupil seriously worried that his weight loss had changed his swing for the worse.

“Darren was very, very concerned. But for me it was a timing thing because there wasn’t all that weight coming through the ball. It’s the same swing.” 

He joked: “The problem with Darren is that he now thinks he is Tom Cruise and I don’t know what kind of player Tom Cruise was.”

Both men have split from their caddies in recent weeks but Harmon fears that Harrington’s decision to sack Dave McNeilly and take on a rookie bagman could cost him dear in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a Major championship.

He said: “I was surprised with Padraig’s deal. They’ve been a good team for a long time and that’s going to hurt him in a Major championship, especially on the back nine on Sunday. 

“What’s made Tiger and Steve Williams such a good relationship is that they work so well under pressure. Steve knows that at any point in time he can stop Tiger and say, look the wind has just shifted, you’ve got the wrong club.

“But I don’t think the young new caddie would have the nerve to do that because if he is wrong, he is going to get blamed.

“I think it is very important and that the caddie and the player be on the same wavelengths. And that’s more the caddie’s responsibility than it is the player’s responsibility.

“The caddie has to understand that the player is always going to be right. A good caddie in a Major championship, if he has worked with the same guy for a long time, he knows his tendencies, knows his personality. He knows when to kick him in the rear end, knows when not to say anything and knows when to pump him up.”