By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington will be continue his Open countdown by chasing a fifth Irish PGA title worth just €12,000 next week.

And that's only because Irish PGA chiefs have saved their blushes by finding a last gasp sponsor for Harrington's title defence at The European Club.

Irish Region boss Michael McCumiskey revealed two weeks ago that blazers at PGA HQ might have to bail out the championship due to lack of backing.

But bookies come have come up trumps for Harrington's title defence in Co Wicklow from July 9-12.

The lottery and gaming giants have slapped down €70,000 - a reduction of €10,000 on last season's total - which means that millionaire Harrington will be playing for a first prize of around €12,000.

And while that's a massive contrast to the €740,000 on offer for the winner of the clashing €3.8 million Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, it's a boost to Harrington's chances of winning another major.

Welcoming the sponsorship, McCumiskey said that it was a wonderful endorsement of a flagship championship that is amongst the longest running in Irish golf.

Back in action in this week's European Open in Kent, Harrington was always determined to prepare for the Open on a links course.

Sticking to the formula that brought him his first major title at Carnoustie last year, the world No 12 had no intention of playing Loch Lomond.

Harrington said: "I play two events before a major to get into the zone.

"I am comfortable with the way I do things with my schedule. I think it works for me. In fact, I know it does."

After beating Brendan McGovern in a play-off last year, Harrington will take on the best Irish talent available.

Tour winners such as Peter Lawrie, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Damien McGrane will all be at Loch Lomond.

But Harrington will face stiff competition in Co Wicklow from the likes of Waterville's David Higgins, recently crowned Irish Club Professional champion John Kelly, last year's Regional No 1 Mark Staunton and former Irish PGA champion Eamonn Darcy.