Harrington's plea to fans

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington is praying that the weather gods will signal a brave new dawn for the Irish Open.

The Dubliner knows that his fellow pros are quaking in their spikes at the prospect of another swing-wrecking, washout.

But he feels that party atmosphere and a little sunshine can change that image and herald a brilliant future for one of Europe's premier events.

He said: "Past history is the problem with the weather we have had for the last number of years.

"Players will come again when they know this is a great event. But they do worry that they’ll come and their golf game will be knocked back for three or four weeks if they are not used to playing in difficult conditions.

"It would be nice to have a sunny Irish Open to try to get it into the European players minds, and especially the Southern Hemisphere players that come up here, that it is a nice place to go, event-wise."

Just fives Aussies have made the trip this week but they don't include Jarrod Lyle, who had a miserable time at Carton House last year.

But with Adare Manor's Tom Kane making a massive effort to restore the pride of the Irish Open, Harrington hopes the fans respond in turn with a massive turnout.

Recognising that this week's event could be the first step towards making the Irish Open a massive success again, Harrington is full of hope.

He said: "With the venue and the sponsor pushing, it could be a new dawn. It has great possibilities.

"I’m very impressed with Tom Kane and the effort he has put in and his commitment for three years. I really hope he is successful because it would be nice to have the Irish Open back to where it used to be.

"The tournament is depending on a good turn out from the fans. The event has got itself into a postion that it needs to build from but we’d like to start off on the right foot here and have a successful Irish Open so that more players could come back next year."

Just two of the world's top 50 have bothered to make the trip to Limerick with Harrington and Lee Westwood the leading players in the field.

And Harrington bluntly pointed out that money is not the only attraction for the players in an era when there are great events nearly every week.

He said: "Gone are the days when the title of the Irish Open would attract people.

"I can name 10 events in Europe that are equally exciting for the players to come along and play. It’s a tough business. The Tour has been too successful, really.

"If you are not prepared to try and be the very best, and at least Tom Kane is trying that, it’s quite a leap from the very best to the rest."