Carnoustie revenge for Harrington

By Brian Keogh

Open champion Padraig Harrington got his revenge on Carnoustie's fearsome 18th with a brilliant birdie three in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Just 10 weeks after he made two visits to the Barry Burn for a double bogey that almost cost him his first major, the Dubliner split the fairway with a three wood and then rifled a nine iron to 15 feet.

After starting with a bogey at the 10th, the Dubliner's 18th hole birdie helped his card a two under par 70 as he opened his defence of the title.

Beaming after his Carnoustie return, Harrington said: "The 18th was a totally different hole today because I hit a three-wood and nine-iron as opposed to a driver and seven-iron back in July.

"That's just the way conditions change and golf holes change and that's why you have to approach each hole as you meet it.

"But I was very pleased after my tee shot at 18 because I find that a hard tee shot, but obviously easier when you are 40 to 50 yards further up off the tee as was the case today.

"So it was one of the most satisfying birdies of the day but then it is only the ninth hole of a 72-hole tournament and it won't make a huge difference to the outcome of the event.

"Carnoustie is a different place now than it was a different wind, the greens are a lot softer and everything about today was different and the fact that I am Open Champion made a little bit of a difference in regards to expectations and probably put a little bit of pressure on me.

"There was special memories for me on every hole and I remember nearly every shot I hit that week.

"I was telling my playing partners about special shots I hit like the left-handed bunker shot on two that nobody would particularly remember or at the third hole in the last round when I hit a cut shot from 50-yards off a down slope, and off a real tight lie, to a foot.

"So I would have given that shot a 10 out of 10 and rather than remembering how I played the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes as everyone saw, it's more like 'you won't believe what I did here' or 'what was I thinking here' or 'what was in my head at a particular time' or 'what club was in my hand' and it more that sort of thing rather than what was the obvious to someone watching.

"And I have to also say that the footbridge at 18 never even crossed my mind. I had to walk across it going up 17 but I didn't even think about it.

"The reception I received today was very warm and very nice.

"There was a good few people out here today who would have been at The Open and they were getting me to sign their memorabilia and they were telling me what they were doing and where they were like being a marshal on 15 or 18 or wherever but it did seem that everyone was on 18.

"So it was nice to come back here as the champion"

Harrington's 70 left him five shots adrift of England's Steve Webster, who hit a brilliant 65 at Carnoustie to lead by a stroke from Soren Hansen, Paul Lawrie, Hennie Otto and Scott Strange on seven under par.

Paul McGinley also hit a bogey free 70 at Carnoustie, where Rory McIlroy fired a one under par 71 and Darren Clarke a level par 72.

At St Andrews, Graeme McDowell was disappointed with his putting despite carding a 70 while Irish pair Damien McGrane and Gary Murphy carded 71s.

After taking 34 putts, McDowell said: "My pace putting was very poor and I've managed to turn a 67 or 68 into a 70."

McGrane's amateur partner, Irish businessman Gerry O'Connor, improved their team score by nine shots as they finished in a six-way tie for the lead on 10 under par.

Harrington and JP McManus could only manage a three under par 69 as Dermot Desmond and Robert Karlsson finished with a 65.