Harrington can best Tiger

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington has the game to challenge Tiger Woods for world domination.

That's the daring prediction of Ryder Cup hero Eamonn Darcy, who's targeting an Irish double in this week's Senior Open at Muirfield.

Woods limped home five shots behind Dubliner Harrington at Carnoustie.

But Darcy reckons the first Irish major winner for 60 years has the mental strength to challenge the world No 1 every time he tees it up.

Delighted for his near neighbour, Darcy said: "Padraig was like a man on a mission. His eyes looked glazed out there. He just could see one thing.

"He was in a zone out there. It was incredible. He reminded me of Tiger.

"The world rankings say he is No 6 in he world but that is only a number. There can't be too many ahead of Padraig now, I'd say. He has the game to go on and win multiple majors.

"He was always strong mentally but he is improving all the time and his golf game is going to get better all the time.

"It is only the start of things to come. You sometimes have to make a mess a couple of times before one comes to you.

"Garcia could have closed him out with a four at the last and he wanted to win it as much as Harrington.

"But the pressure! I can't think of a tougher hole in golf than that 18th or a toughest finish in golf than that finish at Carnoustie. Those last few holes with the Barry Burn twisting around - it is like a maze.

"It was a fantastic day for golf in Ireland and in Europe. We haven't had a major winner in Europe for eight years.

"He is a fitting winner and unlike some of the major winners recently, he is not a one hit wonder.

"He will go on to the States now and it wouldn't surprise me if he wins another major this year.

"He has the game to win plenty of majors. He is one of the best players in the world now."

Darcy's best Open finish came in 1991, when he was fifth behind Ian Baker-Finch at Birkdale.

But what he saw on Sunday has convinced him that Ireland's major haul is set to grow over the coming years.

Shortly after the action finished on Sunday, Darcy added: "I am a nervous wreck. That was an unbelievable day. He played fantastic. His swing was so good and he was just a bit unlucky on 18. It is a fantastic day for Ireland.

"I said a few years ago that I thought he was the one player who could win a major for us. I always thought he had a temperament and it has come to fruition.

"I thought the young Argentinian Andres Romero was going to win it and all of a sudden it dawned on him that he was playing in the Open.

"But Harrington looked the coolest all the way and was in total control of his game. I thought Sergio didn't look comfortable on the greens.

"I thought Harrington made an incredible up and down on the last for a six. That just shows you how composed he was. Anybody else would have hit it onto the green and maybe even three-putted.

"But he knew it still wasn't over and you could see the mind working. I was just so impressed with how he played and how he was swinging the club."

If Harrington doesn't go on to win more majors, Darcy believes Rory McIlroy will fill the void after his incredible share of 42nd place in the world's biggest golf championship.

'The Darce' added: "McIlroy was fantastic as well. He is still only an amateur but he has all the credentials that Darren Clarke and Padraig had in their amateur days.

"He has the game and the confidence. Golf has never been as strong as it is in Ireland now.

"It will push the other lads on big time now. Now let's see if we can d the double at Muirfield. It would be great."