Harrington wants Irish Open

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington wants to end a 25-year wait for a home winner when the Irish Open heads to Adare Manor from 17-20 May.

The Dubliner will travel to Limerick from TPC Sawgrass, where he will tee it up in the $8 million Players Championship on the PGA Tour.

And he admits that he can't wait to kick off the European leg on his season on a course where he first tasted victory two years ago.

Bidding to become the first home winner since John O'Leary in 1982, Harrington said: "There will be a special buzz in the air as this is the first European Tour event to be played in Ireland since the Ryder Cup.

"I was proud to be a member of that team and I will be equally proud and excited if I can win the Irish Open for the first time.

"I was fortunate enough to win the individual and team titles in the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am at Adare in 2005."

Three-time winner Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Thomas Bjorn are also set to tee it up at the Robert Trent Jones Snr design before the tour heads to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship.

But while Harrington and Darren Clarke will warm up for Adare in Florida, the rest of Ireland's tour stars will get a chance to sharpen up for Adare in Andalucia.

The Valle Romano Open has been added to the European Tour schedule at the last minute - joining the Open de España, the Open de Madrid, the Mallorca Classic and the Volvo Masters as one of five Spanish tour stops this term.

The €1 million will be played at Aloha Golf Club near Marbella from 10-13 May.

Harrington, meanwhile, will complete a four week spell in the US in this week's Honda Classic on the par 70 Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa.

The Dubliner won the title in 2005 when the event was played at Mirasol but will face a tough par 70 redesigned by Jack Nicklaus.

Normally a par 72 course, the former Ryder Cup and US PGA Championship venue has been toughened up by the Golden Bear.

The par-five sixth and 10th will be played as long par-fours for the tournament with the sixth measuring 488 yards and the 10th a massive 525 yards.

Several new tees have been built, stretching the course by 200 yards to 7,241 yards.

Bob Coman, PGA National's Director of Golf. "They have modernized the course. I expect them to get a good test and if the wind blows it will be a really good test."

World No 2 Jim Furyk and Ryder Cup star David Toms are the favourites for the title ahead of Harrington and defending champion Luke Donald.