Abnormal build up for Padraig

By Brian Keogh

Tiger Woods hasn't tired of winning and Padraig Harrington is still enjoying the hubbub surrounding his first major title.

And while the Dubliner finished a massive 13 shots behind a rampant Woods in Sunday's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, he's happy to continue his "abnormal" preparation for this week's US PGA championship at scorching South Hills.

For Woods it was business as usual as he romped to an eight-shot victory thanks to an immaculate closing 65 that left Rory Sabbatini eating his words.

The fiery South African lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship this year, then said Woods looked "beatable as ever."

But at Firestone the world No 1 is simply unbeatable and his sixth victory on the Akron track makes him the red-hot favourite to capture the season's final major in Oklahoma on Sunday.

Ominously for the rest, Woods said: "The whole idea was to win this event, but be playing well going into next week.

"I feel I made some nice strides this week, and I feel very good going into next week. ... I feel like I'm in better shape heading into this one than I do going into the last major."

Only two men have won the Open and the US PGA in the same season - Woods did it in 2000 and again last season. Before that it was Zimbabwe's Nick Price in 1994.

Harrington is already wading in unknown waters following his sensational victory at Carnoustie.

He went to Akron without having hit a shot for a week and finished tied for 14th on five over par.

And while he says he won't tire easily of the constant interview requests, Harrington is determined to get back to business as quickly as possible in the frying pan heat of Tulsa this week.

Happy to get four rounds under his belt on a major style layout, the world No 6 has plenty to keep him busy as he prepares to chase his ultimate career goal - a second major.

For several years now, Harrington has said that he wants to win not just one major, but several.

This week represents his first chance to achieve that goal and the Irish star has plenty to keep him occupied as he prepares to tee it up with this season’s other first-time major winners - US Open champion Angel Cabrera and Master winner Zach Johnson.

After a closing with a two over par 72 at Firestone, he said: "I stuck in there well the first three days. Today was kind of half and half.

"I certainly can't complain about the score. I probably got the most out of the weekend, and that's always a good sign.

"This is a great event to have a week before the major. The week after you kind of had put everything into the PGA, and it kind of was a bit of a downer.

"It was excellent obviously to know we were going to get four rounds of golf, as well, on a tough course. You're not going to find any courses as hard as this."

Asked if he had achieved his stated objective to getting the best possible preparation for Southern Hills, Harrington was not so sure.

He said: "You know, I may have won the Open two weeks ago, but it's the same old story out on the course. A lot of work and a lot of discipline has to go into it, and at times my focus wandered.

"While I was good this week in my preparation, it'll certainly needs to be better for next week."

Far from fleeing the "hubbub" of his Open victory and hiding on the course, Harrington wants to suck up all the hype and enjoy it while it lasts.

He said: "No, I like all the hubbub. I'm only going to win my first major once so it's good to enjoy it. It's good to be out there playing.

"I was determined to put in a reasonable effort this week, and I did knuckle down well, but now it's the PGA next week, it's another tournament, and we've got to get going for that.

"I feel fine. But I obviously have a few things to work on. I wasn't quite happy with how I was swinging it this week, and like I said, a little bit of some focus issues, but it's all good stuff.

"I know what I need to do, and hopefully I will fare well the next three days and be ready to go on Thursday."

The Dubliner planned to pitch up a Southern Hills yesterday to get his first look at the course where he finished tied for 30th behind Retief Goosen in the 2001 US Open.

He said: "I will go up to the course tomorrow and get settled in and get all the stuff that needs to be done, maybe play a few holes and have a look at the place, then maybe try and get a bit of the sundry stuff out of the way so that come Tuesday and Wednesday I can prepare well for the tournament.

"The course was fine (in 2001) as I remember. The 18th green was a bit bumpy, but the rest of the golf course, there was nothing on the course to fear.

"There wasn't any holes that I remember that I was think thinking, oh-oh. There's not too many holes like the 18th at Carnoustie."

Woods was 12th at Southern Hills in that 2001 US Open, but his 14th World Golf Championship victory from just 25 starts is ominous for the rest.

At Firestone he finished on eight under par - the only player in red figures.

The only other times he has managed that feat were in his two US Open victories.