Irish hopes take different tack

Irish hopes Padraig Harrington and Chris Devlin are hoping to play out of their skins in the US Open at Torrey Pines.

But while Ballymena-born qualifier Devlin wants the wind to howl so he can draw on his natural “Irish” game, Harrington will be relying on his American-style golf swing to become a double Major champion.

Feeling more an more at home in the US, where he has had four top five finishes from eight starts already this season, the Dubliner is feeling good about his chances of adding to his Open Championship victory.

Patience will be key and Harrington simply wants to make sure he survives the longest test in major history until the back nine on Sunday before launching another late afternoon title charge.

Harrington said: “The great thing about a major is that you can be patient. No one is going to run away in this tournament.

“I was one shot off the play-off last week and played the same as I did in Wales two weeks ago, where I was 15 shots behind the leader and missed the cut.

“That’s why you can never predict anything in this game. I have to stay patient and keep plugging away. I am happy with my preparation but I have to realise that if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

“It if does, I will be there or thereabout with nine holes to go and I know that I can do it from there. I have done it before and that is what I am looking for.

“I have done everything but win this year and I have had a good six months since Christmas. A few wins would make it all the better.”

The damp, overcast conditions that have dominated the practice rounds all week don’t suit Harrington’s remodelled American swing.

But with the sun set to shine over the weekend and with little wind forecast, he can take advantage of the high-spinning ball flight he has worked hard to create with his coach Bob Torrance.

He said: “My ball flight is very suited now to very hot weather. I spin the ball a little bit to much and when I get into very hot weather that’s great. But in slightly less hot weather you’d like a little less spin.

“Irish conditions don’t suit me any more. If I was coming here and I have played all my golf in Ireland I would say this is great. But it doesn’t give me that much of an advantage.

“In the US Open it is all about repeating yourself all the time and having a consistent, orthodox swing that you know what you are doing with.

“It is about doing the same thing over and over and over again at the US Open. I have worked hard on my swing to get that over the last number of years. I am never going to have a repeatable golf swing but it is better than it was."

Based in Alabama for the past 10 years, Ballymena born Devlin is hoping that the wind blows hard all week so that he can take advantage of his natural, Irish ball-flight.

The 33-year-old is living a dream at Torrey Pines after recovering from serious medical condition that required open heart surgery in 2006.

Struggling to make it off the third tier Hooters Tour, he wants to smooth his path to the second stage of the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School by making the cut.

And the only way he feels he can achieve that goal is if the wind buffets the cliff-top course and sends scoring soaring.

Devlin said: “I hope the wind blow like hell. I want it to play as hard as it can possibly play. It’s the only chance I’ve got.

“They are allowing his to run a few shots in at some hole and it’s really good. I feel very much at home and I’m just glad to be here. I’m looking forward to it.”

After coming through to stages of qualifying to make the field, Devlin stands to pocket a massive cheque if he can make the cut.

But he has been taking advantage of the perks of a US Open by stocking up on equipment and clothing.

He even has a new set of Cleveland irons and had a new three-wood built to his specifications after breaking his own model with his first swing on the practice range last Saturday.