Harrington not bothered by Tiger talk

By Brian Keogh

Who's afraid of Tiger Woods?

Not Padraig Harrington, judging by the Open champion's comments in the build up to his 2008 PGA Tour debut in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

With Woods targeting the Grand Slam this year and heading into his next event looking for a sixth successive win, Harrington has vowed to pay no attention to Tiger-mania and concentrate on his own game.

Set to tee it up with JP McManus this week, Harrington said: "It doesn't matter if Tiger is the odds-on favorite to win the next 12 events. I'm going to play my own game, my very best game every time.

"If there's 155 guys in every week, I can't control them, I can't control Tiger, I can't control anybody else. The only person I can look after is me.

"I will endeavor to play those 12 majors as well as I can. I will do my thing and look after myself.

"And if Tiger wins the next 12 Grand Slams, as somebody was saying on the range up there, I'll pat him on the back and say, 'well done', because he has to go and do it.

"My goal is to look after what I'm doing and not worry about anybody else."

After breaking his Major duck last season, Harrington is determined not to become a one-hit wonder.

And in an age when golf is becoming Tiger-obsessed, even when he's not playing, Harrington is a breath of fresh air.

He won the same number of major as Woods last year - one - and reckons that the game's leading attraction has his work cut out to win the Grand Slam as competition hots up.

Harrington explained: "It's up to you guys to create that interest and to put it out there that he's going to win the Grand Slam this year, that he's going to be unbeatable for the foreseeable future, and that's the story you've got to create.

"But as a player, I've got to keep away from that and just do my thing. I think last year, there was three other major winners.

"It's interesting that the prediction is he's going to win the Grand Slam. He nearly won two (majors) a year for most years and he only got one last year.

"I think players are more likely to do their own thing and take their chances now.

"I think there's a good depth behind Tiger, and as I said, he may be playing the best golf of his life, he may be the best golfer we'll ever see play golf. But I think it's a big challenge to do that.

"And there's enough depth of players behind him, you know, to put him up some. If he does it, I'll shake his hand and say, 'well done'."

Harrington has played just two events in the last 10 weeks - December's Target World Challenge and last month's Abu Dhabi Championship.

But he insists that while he might rusty, he's still raring to go.

After suffering a neck injury and a bout of shingles last month, he said: "I had a couple of illnesses that sort of stopped me in my tracks, but certainly the month of January I feel I've gotten some good work done.

"I'm not 100 percent competitive, but I'm 100 percent ready to go."