R&A impose Claret Jug limit for future champions

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington has ordered so many Claret Jug replicas that Open Championship chiefs have slapped a five-trophy limit on future champions.

But Harrington says he can beat the ban, insisting: “I have a way around it - win it again!

“I am really looking forward to getting to Royal Birkdale and I’ll be there for a reconnaisance trip soon. I can’t wait.”

Padraig Harrington

Hailed as a “fantastic” Open champion by R&A blazers, Chief Executive Peter Dawson confessed that the Dubliner’s official requests for Claret Jug replicas had forced them to change their policy.

Harrington got a 90 percent replica for winning the title but then ordered what the R&A described as “a truckload” of two-third sized replicas worth over €4,000 each.

Dawson said: "It's a lot of money to me but I guess when you've just won £750,000 (€950,000) it may not be to Padraig.”

Now his buying power has forced the R&A to think long and hard about their policy and impose a five-Jug limit on future champions.

Asked exactly how many replicas Harrington had asked for, Dawson joked: “A truckload. But I know how many I've agreed he can obtain.”

Director of Championships, Dave Hill, added: “It started off as two and he phoned and said 'could I have another’.”

But Dawson continued: “It has caused us to establish a policy, actually, which is from memory, that the champion gets a 90 per cent replica and can purchase another four two-thirds sized replicas and that will be our policy going forward.

“We have had this with other champions in the past and some even got their own replicas made. But that doesn’t happen any more.

“With this measure, we now believe we have got this situation under control.”

Harrington has been snowed under with requests for souvenirs of his Open win at Carnoustie last year, including replicas of the Claret Jug.

The Dubliner said: “I haven’t got the replicas yet. But the problem is that you can never have enough of these things. There are always places that they can go.”

And after consulting other Major winners, he decided to snap up tons of merchandise - including 1,000 Carnoustie pin flags costing €22 each as well as posters, paintings and prints.

As a “home” winner, Dubliner Harrington has been a dream ambassador for the R&A.

Dawson said: “Padraig's been fantastic. I've seen quite a bit of him since he won and he's been so pleased to have won it.

“He's also been so respectful of the position as Open Champion that he has always wanted to do his duty by it and he's certainly done that.

“I know for example he has been involved with us in doing a golf etiquette film recently and he's coming over to the Junior Open to see all the kids there. So he could not be a better ambassador. He's a great guy."

David Hill, Director of Championships, added: “Padraig's been a great champion. He's been one of our favourites.”

Following a string of American winners, Harrington was the first Open champion in more than a decade to attend a Monday morning press conference at Carnoustie.

Harrington played the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, when Mark O’Meara lifted the title after a play-off with Brian Watts, but missed the cut by three shots after rounds of 73 and 76.

But he will face a strategic test when he defends his title from 17-20 July with accuracy rather than power the key to victory.

The R&A has added six new tees, stretching the course by just 155 yards from the 1998 yardage to 7,173 yards.

But they have also added 20 bunkers and greenside contours to force players to use strategy off the tee.

However, there will be no drugs testing policy in place for the first time in a Major.

The US and European Tours will begin testing in July but the R&A have decided to wait until next year because of the Open's global qualifying system.

Events have already taken place in Asia, South Africa and Australia and the players at those events have not had the same education programme open to those in Europe and America.

Dawson said: “It is very important that players understand what it is about and given that quite a number of players do not play on the PGA or European Tours we decided that it will not start at the Open this year.”