Harrington to defend Irish PGA

By Brian Keogh

Open champion Padraig Harrington is hoping to set up another Open win with an Irish PGA warm up at The European Club.

The Dubliner has confirmed that he will defend his title at the Co Wicklow links the week before this year's Open at Royal Birkdale.

Harrington is convinced that his fourth Irish PGA win last year set him up for victory over Sergio Garcia tat Carnoustie the following week.

And he's hoping that strategy works again this year when he returns to Pat Ruddy's links gem from July 9-12.

Recalling the Irish PGA's role in his Open victory, he said: “There was no question that there were shots at the Open that I was better at because I had played links golf at The European Club the week before.

“And I would specifically pick the seven iron into the first hole of the play-off. The weather had just turned, the clouds had come in and the temperature had dropped.

“I had seen from the week before what difference that made to clubbing. I hit a seven-iron 162 yards, where I would have been hitting a seven-iron 180 yards that day.

"That had been brought home to me at the Irish PGA where the weather and the wind had been so difficult and you really had to trust those yardages.

"Without question, the extra week on a links course helped me out in the Open. And as I only won it in a play-off, it must have won me the Open.

“I am looking forward to defending my title and delighted to support the Irish region of the PGA.

"I believe that the fantastic challenge provided by the European Club was the ideal links golf preparation for The Open Championship last year and I hope it proves to be the same in 2008.”

Harrington will be going for his fifth win in the event following his play-off win over Brendan McGovern last year.