Fatigue warning for Harrington

By Brian Keogh

Carnoustie champion Paul Lawrie has warned fellow Open winner Padraig Harrington: Watch out for major fatigue.

The Scot lifted the Claret Jug in amazing circumstances in 1999 when he beat Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde in a four-hole play-off.

And after going through the busiest 12 months of his life in the aftermath of his first major victory, Lawrie believes that fellow Carnoustie winner Harrington will be "knackered" by this time next year.

Lawrie was snowed under with requests of one kind or another during his year as Champion Golfer.

And he hopes that Harrington will have the mental strength to just say "no" or face the consequences.

Lawrie warned: "The hardest thing is to say no to some things. But so many things come in and so many things are asked of you that you can't do them all.

"I understand that it can still be hard to say no to things. It might be a cause that you believe in or a charity might want you to come along and make a speech.

"You might have only been at home for a day and you have to go again. It was very tiring and a very tough year. But it was great at the same time, it's something you'd want every year to be Champion Golfer of the year.

"I can't think of anything better. But it is tough going and he'll be absolutely knackered in a year's time, even if he says no to some things.

"He is a nice lad and he is going to do all he can. But you have just got to say no sometimes and it is difficult because there is a lot of stuff out there and you think, I'd like to do that."

Harrington and Lawrie are managed by International Management Group (IMG) and at the time of winning their first major, their affairs were taken care of by the same person.

Lawrie explained: "Adrian did all my stuff and he was brilliant. He has been through it all with me and he will know exactly what to do.

"But it is a hard year with a lot of stuff to do. I wouldn't do anything different. I did everything I wanted to do and we didn't let anyone down badly.

"We said no to a couple of things but I think people understood that you just can't do it all. But Padraig knows what he is doing. He is a world class player and has been for a long time."

Apart from saying 'no', one of the tasks facing Harrington over the winter months will be to answer the hundreds of letters and cards that have poured into his Rathmichael home since July.

Some will be requests for his time but others will be congratulating him on his win and there's even a note from Scot Lawrie and his wife Marion,.

Lawrie explained: "I haven't seen him since he won the Open but Marion and I wrote to him. He probably hasn't even seen the letter yet because I had an unbelievable amount of stuff.

"As a player you can't beat it when a fellow player writes you a wee letter and says, well done. I just loved the letters that I got. It is a respect thing.

"You let people know what you are feeling. And no matter how good a player you are, when you win a major it's a hell of an achievement.

"We wrote: 'Well done. Welcome to the club. PS If you want me to send some ladybirds, tell Paddy they are in the post.'

"He is a great guys. If it had to be anyone to win a major for Europe again, I would have wanted it to be him. He has worked hard. He is a great lad and I was chuffed to bits."

Asked what he might say to play-off loser Garcia when he sees him next, Lawrie shrugged.
He said: "Nothing special. He finished second. Good week. Hard lines. Something like that. The winner deserves to be the winner. He is the winner because he is the winner.

"You hear people saying that the little Argentinian Andres Romero should have won. Well if he should have won, he would have won. End of story. You don't get anything for second or third. There is only one winner."

Lawrie's passion on the subject has everything to do with Van de Velde and that infamous triple bogey at Carnoustie's 18th in 1999, when a six would have given him the title.

They were paired together again in Cologne this week with Lawrie winning their first round head-to-head by eight shots: 68 - 76.

He said: "We've played many times since the Open. We played just before he was ill in Madeira in March. We have a great time and huge is a funny guy.

"We don't have a problem. That's just professional sport for you. I have always had a lot of time for him and he has always had time for me.

"I have never been through what he is feeling. But I think he has dealt with it extremely well and anyone who says he didn't deal with it well is having a laugh.

"They guy has lost a play off in the Open and he did really well afterwards. I wish I could say that I would have handled it as well as him.

"Are we mates? We are not mates. We have never gone for a meal. He is not in my company and I am not in his. But we have a great time playing together."

(Westwood chasing Padraig)

Lee Westwood still believes he can steal Padraig Harrington's Order of Merit crown.

The English star, winner of the title in 2000, is a massive €1.36 million behind the Dubliner in the money list.

But if he wins this week's Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, Westwood will be "just" €1 million behind.

And he warned: "I'm still thinking about the Order of Merit and winning it. The way my game is, I feel I'm in contention every week.

"If I win the right weeks, like the Dunhill Links, I'm going to be up there with a chance of winning the Order of Merit."

Harrington's next counting event in Europe is his defence of the €3.6 million Dunhill Links where the winner will bank at least €630,000.

(Walker Cup team puzzles McGinley)

Paul McGinley has questioned the lack of Irishmen in the Walker Cup side that lost in Newcastle last weekend.

"McGinnr" was glued to the coverage on BBC TV last weekend as Rory McIlroy and Jonny Caldwell flew the home flag.

But he can't understand why there were just two Irish players on the Great Britain and Ireland side that lost narrowly to the United States.

McGinley said: "I am not a watcher of golf but I made a point of watching it on TV. It was a good comeback by the GB&I lads.

"But why were there only two Irish on the team when we are European champions? That's the question I would ask.

"Having two out of 10 on the team when we are European champions and playing the Walker Cup at home does not equate. We had three on the team at Portmarnock in 1991."

McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Garth McGimpsey all played that year but still lost 14-10 to a side featuring Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Bob May.

Irish Close champion Shane Lowry was the star of the European Team Championships but as he never even made the Walker Cup training squad, he was always struggling to get picked.

(New balls for Clarkey)
Darren Clarke has an inspirational new golf ball to help him beat his slump.

His TaylorMade TP Red has his traditional shamrock logo printed on it.

He said: "The shamrock is also my golf course design logo."

They also have the No 60 - a reminder of his career low rounds at The K Club and Monte Carlo.

A bit of inspiration perhaps? Smiling, Clarke said: "You would think so."

(Dyson represents Irish course)

England's Simon Dyson has signed up to represent the Champions Club at Moyvalley in Co Kildare.

But the York man confessed that he has yet to play the course designed by pal Darren Clarke.

A stablemate of Clarke's at ISM, Dyson said: "I stayed at the hotel during the European Open. But I can't give Darren any marks out of ten as a designer. Yet. I hear it's fantastic though."