From Brian Keogh in San Diego
Padraig Harrington knows that Tiger Woods has a massive head-start on him in the US Open at Torrey Pines.
But the Irish ace believes he can still overcome the odds and lift his second major title in the space of 11 months.
While the world number one has racked up six Buick Invitational wins on the San Diego track he's been playing since he was 15, first-time visitor Harrington will have had just two and a half practice rounds when he tees off in his 11th US Open tomorrow.
Yet the Dubliner still believes he will be ready to put up with everything that’s thrown at him and more than capable of pouncing on his second major title on Sunday night.
After missing his planned appearance in January’s Buick, Harrington said: “It would be nice to have played the golf course in twenty tournaments like Tiger has done but I just have to do the best with what I’ve got.
“He has an advantage over me in that respect. How big an advantage? We don’t know. There’s no question the more you play a course, the better you get to know it.
“But I’m not worried about it. I can’t do anything about it so that’s why I don’t worry about it. It’s not controllable on my behalf.
“I’m sure I’ll have a putt that I’ll hit it on a certain line that I'd play differently if I had been here for the Buick. But there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Woods won January’s PGA Tour event by a massive eight shots but Harrington still believes the 108th US Open is wide open.
No-one is moaning about the set up of a course that measures over 7,600 yards and with generous fairways and graduated rough, everyone feels that they have a chance.
Open champion Harrington loves the course too and while he’d prefer to see a sterner test that would frightened the life out of half the field, he’s feeling good about his game after his share of fourth place in last week’s Stanford St Jude Classic in Memphis.
He said: “I like the golf course, really like it. I'm very happy with it. It's a good, stern test, but it seems very, very fair.
“From what I've heard, everybody is very pleased with the course, which may be a little disappointing. It's always nice when about behalf the field gives out about it.”
Big hitter Harrington is delighted with his current form off the tee and he confessed that the longest course in US Open history is not the monster he expected.
He said: “From what I saw yesterday, length isn't as big an issue as it could be. And if you do miss, you can get a ball running and nearly every green out there is accessible at the front. It might be a small target, but it can be done.
“I would actually fancy the chances of some of the very short, straight hitters this week, I would see them doing quite nicely.
“I can't see anybody who feels that they have less chance than anybody else on this golf course. It looks like it's wide open in terms of the field with plenty of opportunities for everybody to play well.”
Harrington played warm up events in Wales and Memphis to get ready for his major title bid.
And with three top tens and one win in majors since 2006, he feels he’s learnt how to get himself in position to have a run at the title.
He said: “The course suits me eye and I feel ready to go and play this week. That's all I can do. I can't tell you now that I'm going to have a great week or I can't tell you that it's going to be a bad week.
“I don't know what the result is going to be, but I feel ready at this stage and things are on track.
“What gives me confidence is that I seem to be getting better in Majors over the last two and a half years.
“I've had a few missed cuts but I've had a lot of good, good runs in them. And that's what gives me confidence.”
As Harrington stood outside the media tent, Woods pretended to limp past the Dubliner for his pre-tournament interview after eight weeks off due to knee surgery.
Beaming, Harrington roared: "Hey Tiger. Do you need the loan of a crutch?"
Woods smiled at the banter but the serious stuff starts tomorrow and Harrington is ready for action.