Padraig Harrington knows he'll be on Tiger Woods' hit list next season after stealing the American's PGA Tour crown.

But the reigning Open and US PGA champion is still looking forward to the challenge as he bids to move up to the next level in the game.

After taking over from Woods as PGA Tour Player of the Year, Harrington said: “The Player of the Year Award is very close to Tiger's heart. But when somebody pips Tiger for something, he pats them on the back, says well done and I’m coming to get you next time.

“You know that and that’s what you want from a fellow player. You want that sort of competition. You got me this time, let’s see how we do the next time.

“I haven’t actually spoken to Tiger. But the great thing about him is that he is a very genuine professional.”

Harrington has more wins that losses in his head to head battles with Woods over the past six years - beating him down the stretch in the 2002 Target World Challenge and the 2006 Dunlop Phoenix.

But Ireland's triple Major winner reckons Woods was a victim of his incredible success when his fellow pros weighed up their vote for Player of the Year.

The American won four times before season-ending knee surgery in June, including the US Open for the his 14th major, and he was second on the money list despite playing only six times.

Harrington explained: “I am realistic enough to realise that Tiger not getting it this year is a result of his great success in previous years.

“I think if anybody had done what he did this year, winning a major with a broken leg and winning virtually every other tournament he played in, I think everybody would see that as exceptional.

“The players look at Tiger and think, well, that’s just what he’s done every year sort of thing. Part of reason why I won Player of the Year this is that I had an exceptional year and Tiger Woods is just so good that what he did can be considered the norm for him.”

As a three-time Major champion, Harrington says his next challenge is to feel comfortable in the same league as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.

He said: "There are four players in the game now who have won three Majors and then you have Tiger Woods, who has stolen a leap on everybody.

“To put myself into that category with Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh is difficult. These are guys that I actually watched on television and guys I put up on a pedestal.”

But US Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim believes Harrington deserved to win Player of the Year for his competitive steel.

Kim said: "He showed that when the going gets tough, he's going to stick in there and play some good golf.

“There's a lot of pressure playing in the majors. He's obviously shown that he can play at that level. I think it's well-deserved. He had a great year."

Kim and Colombian pin-up Camilo Villegas will be expected to challenge Woods next year after winning twice this season.

But Woods says he hasn't had a chance to see them up close, adding ominously: “I don't know how they're acting coming down the stretch of a tournament, because I haven't seen their eyes. Most of their success has come when I wasn't there."

Woods will get his chance to do some homework from the comfort of a golf cart this week when he hosts the Chevron World Challenge in Los Angeles.

But Harrington will be at home in Dublin, preparing to take on the Tiger for Major glory in 2009.