Harrington facing monster ride

By Brian Keogh

Open champion Padraig Harrington spent the last week riding roller coasters in Orlando - including the hair-raising Incredible Hulk.

Now the Dubliner is hoping he can become the PGA Tour's very own "Green Monster" when he begins his chase for a $10 million payday in the FedEx Cup.

The four-tournament play-off series kicks off at this week's Barclays Classic in New York and world No 6 Harrington plans to play all four events as he bids to tick off yet another goal this season.

With the Irish Open and his first Major already on his mantelpiece, in-form Harrington has now set his sights on the biggest first prize in golf.

Harrington said: "I have always liked to set goals for myself and the FedEx Cup is the obvious goal for me now. To win it I'll probably have to win two of the play-off events so starting at The Barclays is perfect for me.

"I have always like the course and two years ago I won by holing a 66 footer for eagle on the last. Positive memories like that are always going to help and there is always plenty of Irish support out there as well."

The top 144 on the PGA Tour money list have qualified for the first of four FedEx Cup play-off events which will culminate at the Tour Championship in Atlanta in four weeks time.

Players have been seeded on the basis of the points tally from the regular tour season with Tiger Woods at No 1 and Harrington 21st.

All points have been reset starting this week and with Woods deciding to skip the first event, he could be caught and passed by Harrington.

The Dubliner is just 5,400 points adrift of the world No1 with 50,000 points on offer for the winner at Westchester Country Club

And Harrington is certainly feeling refreshed after a week-long, family holiday with his wife Caroline and son Paddy in Orlando.

He said: "I went on all the rides you can imagine. My favourite was probably The Incredible Hulk over at Universal Studios.

"It only last two minutes but you are fired 150 feet in the air at 70 mph so playing golf will be pretty sedate after that."

The big absentee is FedEx Cup points leader Tiger Woods, who says he is too tired to tee it up after back to back wins in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA.

Woods said: "My intention was to compete in all four PGA Tour playoff events, including the inaugural Barclays Classic.

"Playing the last two weeks in the heat and humidity were mentally and physically draining. My body is spent and I need a short break."

The absence of Woods from the first playoff event is a setback for the PGA Tour, which has trumpeted the inaugural FedExCup series as "a new era in golf".

But Woods added: "This is in no way a knock on Barclays, their new event or the new FedExCup series, which I fully support.

"I just hope this extra week of rest will rejuvenate me for the final three playoff events and the Presidents Cup. It is still my goal to win the FedExCup and I am hopeful this will give me the best opportunity to finish the year strong."

After The Barclays, 24 players are eliminated as the field narrows to 120 players for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

Another 50 will go home after that one to create a 70-player field for the BMW Championship at Cog Hill.

After that, only the top 30 points winners will make the 30-player field for the Tour Championship in Atlanta and Harrington plans to be there with his chances of overall victory still intact.