Harrington goes square

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington is going square this week as he prepares to explode into action at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

With his Order of Merit crown on the line, Dubliner put the new Wilson Staff square-headed 'Spine' driver in his bag for a practice round at Kingsbarns.

A third Dunhill Links victory at St Andrews on Sunday would virtually sew up the Order of Merit for the reigning European No 1.

And the Open champion is considering using every weapon at his disposal to see off nearest rivals Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson and Niclas Fasth.

According to Wilson Staff, the new driver stretches the rules right to the limit to allow a player to hit his most explosive and accurate tee shots.

A spokesman for Wilson said: "Padraig started testing the club at a Wilson Staff demo day at Hanbury Manor about three weeks ago.

"He took to the club straight away and liked the sound of the club and the shape of the shots he was able to hit.

"But whether he uses it this week in competition will depend on whether he's fully comfortable with it.

"Hopefully he does and hopefully it will prove pivotal in Padraig retaining the Alfred Dunhill Links trophy."

Harrington will partner JP MCManus again this year as they defend the pro-am title.

But there was just one fan watching when he teed off with Irish businessmen Dermot Desmot, John Mahony and Gerry O'Connor at Kingsbarns yesterday.

Word that the Open champion was on the links spread quickly and Harrington soon had a gallery of around 50 fans.

The Dubliner, 36, will practice on the Old Course at St. Andrews today and leave his return to Carnoustie, 23 miles away, until the event proper.