Open champion Padraig Harrington won't settle for second best when he defends his Open Championship crown at Royal Birkdale in July.

The Dubliner played a practice round at the Merseyside links yesterday and insisted that nothing but victory will satisfy him in his first Major title defence.

With just seven weeks to go before he has to hand back the Claret Jug, Harrington said: “I’m not here to put in the solid defence. That doesn’t mean anything to me. If somebody turns around and offers me fifth place in the Open, I’d say no.


“For the last couple of years, my sights have been very firmly on turning up to win tournaments. Fifth place might be very good in retrospect, but winning is what I am about at the moment and that is why I’m here.”

After falling outside the Ryder Cup places, Harrington wants to boost his chances of making Nick Faldo's side with a win in this week's Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

But after flying 170 miles north for a corporate day for his sponsors Wilson, he took time out to do his Open Championship homework before the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson turn up to challenge him from July 17-20.

Looking forward to the challenge, Harrington said: “I think I’d be happy to defend anytime. But it is going to be different. There’s going to be a little more pressure and expectation but you are happy to deal with it. I will have to try and tone it down during the week and keep it relatively low profile and low key.

"The course reminds me more of Portmarnock than Portrush. There might be a lot of players coming here and liking it, which is not what I want.

"I’d be happier if everybody turns up and hates the place, that’s a good thing for me. I can understand why a lot of players would rate this very highly. It’s not a tricky course, there’s nothing funky about it. Everything is there in front of you.

“I prefer a difficult test because it limits the number of people who can compete on the golf course, though if there is more pressure on you, you’d prefer to be on a more straightforward golf course than one that throws up a lot."

As for his battle for a Ryder Cup place, he added: “I probably only have the chance to make it from the World Points List and it’s pretty tight there.

“There’s seven or eight guys playing for those five positions in the world ranking and that’s not throwing in anybody else who maybe has a good run. I’ve got to make sure that I do my job and get in the points over the next few weeks."