Harrington plays down million to one shot

From Brian Keogh at Wentworth

Don't blow your dough.

That's the blunt message from Irish Open king Padraig Harrington on his chances of grabbing a cool €1 million bonus at Wentworth this week.

The happiest man in Ireland believes the bookies will make a killing if he is heavily backed to complete a BMW PGA-Irish Open double worth €2.14 million.

Harrington said: "I have a chance of winning one million euro and I'm the only one with a chance of winning a million euro. I just wish it was somewhere else.

"I couldn't be favoured at Wentworth, the bookies would hold that bet.

The Dubliner pocketed €416,660 for his hoodoo-smashing Irish Open victory at Adare Manor and moved up one spot in the latest world rankings to No 11.

But with BMW PGA Championship title worth €725,000 and a €1 million bonus from Adare Manor for doing the double, the Dubliner could be in line for a massive payout on Sunday night.

The only problem is that Europe's No 1 will be physically and mentally flat when he gets to the London venue today.

He also hates the poa annua greens and is fighting the fact that no player in history has won the two titles in the same season.

He added: "It is absolutely a great place to go and play golf. I love it tee-to-green but it's not like I feel like I'm going to turn up and say 'This is the course for me.'

"Everything set up for me at Adare but Wentworth is a tougher week for me. I'm sure the bookies wouldn't mind holding that bet."

Whatever happens at Wentworth, Harrington is still on a high after his memorable play-off victory over Bradley Dredge.

And while he was reluctant to call it the biggest win of his career, he still puts it on a par with his proudest moments in golf.

He said: "I would put it as an equal. The World Cup I won with Paul McGinley if '97 was just unbelievable, there's no question about it. I would have to say for excitement that was incredible.

"The Ryder Cup, 2002, again, unbelievable, the excitement in that. I think there have been a number of other events and this is at the top of the pile, no question about it."

Becoming the first Irishman to win the Irish Open for 25 years is not quite in the same league as winning a Major.

But the pressure was still immense and Harrington was proud to come through one of the biggest tests of his career.

He said: "It's definitely harder to go with a lead. We all want the lead, but there's a little bit more pressure involved - more things can go wrong.

"Going out there, I knew it was never going to be easy and I had it in my head that it was quite possible I would lose the lead at some stage here in the round.

"I was amazed, I thought with the course setup today somebody would go very low. I've never seen as many pins in birdie positions as there were out there.

"I'm really surprised somebody didn't shoot the lights out actually because it was certainly on."

The biggest bonus for Harrington was the way he handled the pressure of being favourite from the start and still produced the goods.

He said: "I believe I've improved my game enough over the last 18 months and I'm better able to perform when I need it and it's not as haphazard as it would be in the past.

"It's a definite boost to my confidence that I can come into an event that I want to do well in and perform."

Harrington also believes that the quality of the event will boost the field next year, despite doubts about the suitability of the May date.

He said: "What's going to help is people coming here and playing and going back and telling their mates, yeah it was a good event.

"I think the fact that Tom Kane and Adare Manor showing their willingness to improve and to keep getting better, that will encourage players to come back, no question about it.

"I don't think the date is as big an issue as people make out. I think they will come here if they feel like they are going to get a great tournament.

"The golf course is capable and the sponsors are capable of hosting a great tournament."