Harrington feels ready for Major breakthrough

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington knows he has the game to beat Tiger Woods in head to head combat.

But he says he'll be happy if he can win any of the four majors this year and end Europe’s eight year Major drought.

With his 2002 win at the Target World Challenge and play-off victory over Woods in Japan last year, the Dubliner has proved that he is not afraid of the world No 1.

He said: "The fact that I have successfully done it in the past, it's got to be positive. But I don't think there's a single player in this field that wouldn't want to be playing with Tiger on Sunday because that usually says you're doing quite well."

After eight years without a European Major win, world No 10 Harrington hopes to break that hoodoo this week.

Comparing a European breakthrough to Roger Bannister's sub four-minute mile, he said: "The way I see it is the quicker a European wins a major, the quicker the rest of us will see that and realize it's like breaking the four-minute mile.

"Once one person does it, everybody will be able to do it. I think there is a little bit of a push needed."

At 35, Harrington has played in 34 Majors with five fifth place finishes his best performances so far.

But he believes he is better prepared than ever to take that extra step and become Europe’s golfing Bannister.

He said: "I've had a few years where, you know, it's talked about, but I'm only starting to come into a situation where I'm probably a little bit more capable of winning a major.

"We have a strong, young Ryder Cup team and there will be some Masters winners coming out of the team, no doubt about it.

"But I think it does take a lot of experience to win at Augusta. It really is not a tournament that throws up surprises.

"I think you really need to have come close before you win here. I definitely think it's the toughest major to win - it asks the ultimate questions coming down the stretch.

"There are a lot of shots that have to be absolutely perfect. The margin for error on the likes of 11, 12, 13, 15 is very slim.

"I think Lee Westwood described it best when he was leading going into the back nine (in 1999). Just everything changed."