Harrington ready to break hoodoo

By Brian Keogh

Favourite Padraig Harrington believes he can end Ireland's 25-year wait for an Irish Open winner.

But he might have to change his trousers.

The Dubliner can't understand why no-one has managed to emulate snazzy dresser John O'Leary's 1982 Irish Open win.

Harrington quipped: "It's been 25 years since John O'Leary won in black and white trousers. If it doesn't work this year, I'll try the black and white trousers next year."

As he prepared to make his 12th tilt at the title, the Dubliner insisted that he feels good about his chances at Adare Manor.

He said: "Coming back from Sawgrass, I have a few reservations in terms of a little bit of jet lag, but I don’t have great reservations. So I could have a good week.

"The fact that people want an Irish winner puts a little more pressure on us. But whether it is me or one of the other guys, it would be great to get that monkey off our backs."

Darren Clarke's European Open win in 2001 was the first home victory by an Irishman for 19 years.

Including Harrington, a task force of 17 Irishmen will tee it up at Adare Manor with the Dubliner the 13-2 favourite with bookies Paddy Power.

The world No 12 understands that Frenchmen can win the French Open and Italians the Italian Open, but he believes that Ireland is a case apart.

He said: "In those countries, the don't have the same media coverage and the same expectations and the same stresses coming into the event.

"It's a bigger deal in Ireland. In some of those countries, golf is more of an American sport than it is in Ireland. It's a big deal here."

Harrington knows that if an Irishman makes the breakthrough, it will make it easier for the rest to repeat the act in future years.

He said: " I'm around ten years, so I should be able to deal with it. It's not the same as it was years ago.

"We're all getting older and we'll be able to get through it. It's like the Majors. The more Europeans start winning, the easier it is for other Europeans to win.

"So let's let one Irish guy win it and whether it's me or one of the other Irish guys, we'll make it easier in future years."