Carnoustie can be fun

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington is looking forward to "fun" times when The Open returns to Carnoustie in July.

Nicknamed "The Beast", the feared Scottish links is remembered for Jean Van de Velde's nightmare triple bogey seven at the 72nd hole in 1999.

But after hosting a Wilson Staff outing at the classic links yesterday, Harrington believes the fast and fiery set-up will make "Carnasty" much more fun this time around.

And he will be feeding off the "good vibes" of his Alfred Dunhill Links wins in 2002 and 2006 rather than the shots he has hit out of bounds on the fiendish finishing hole.

He said: "Even today I can notice, despite the rain, that the course is going to set-up totally different to ’99.

"If you missed the fairway back then all you could do was get your pitching wedge out and just get it back on the fairway.

"From what I have seen today, and from speaking with other players, this time around the R&A is going for wispy rough.

"The course will be set up like a traditional links and that will make it more exciting, more fun and give us more options.

"In 1999 it probably suited a very mentally dogged type of player who used the strategy ‘I am going to play the course this way’ but this time I think it will suit someone will more flair, more hit-and-miss in their game.

"So the The Open this year should be more exciting for 72 holes than for just that one hole in 1999."

Those Dunhills Links victories alongside JP McManus have helped Harrington forget the bad times at Carnoustie.

Harrington said: "The two wins in the Alfred Dunhill Links will give me a very positive vibe when I come back in July.

"Before that I had to pre qualify for the ’99 British Open and from what I can remember it was a real tough golf course that week.

"I liked the fact that everyone else wasn’t enjoying it and that helped think that the course was a good challenge.

"But the one shot I always remember from ’99, and obviously there was a lot of talk about Jean taking seven down the last, was the three-iron I hit off the fairway at 18 that pitched on the green and went out-of-bounds.

"So the 18th here at Carnoustie was then and is still the toughest closing hole to have a lead on.

"You can play that hole well but there is no way you can walk on the tee and thinking that I have can take a five and win, and just chip it down the fairway, as it is not a hole that you can play safely."

Harrington also went out of bounds at the 18th in the 1992 British Amateur, losing to eventual winner Stephen Dundas in the quarter-finals.

But the course has changed utterly since then and Harrington expects a fast and firm links test this time around.