Open champion Padraig Harrington won’t give up the Claret Jug without a fight after regaining his winning touch with a successful defence of the Irish PGA at The European Club.

The Dubliner grabbed his first win for more than eight months when he closed with a 72 to finish four shots clear of Royal Birkdale bound Philip Walton on one-over par.

After pocketing a cheque for just €10,000, Harrington confessed that it felt good to get some silverware in his hands again and sharpen up his links game ahead of this week’s Major test on Merseyside.

Without a win since October's Hassan Trophy in Morocco, Harrington said: "Winning is always a nice feeling. It is a habit and not a bad habit to stick with.

"The whole week was very satisfactory. It’s been an excellent exercise and I couldn't have asked for a better week in preparation for the Open.”

Harrington was eight shots clear with three holes to play but bogeyed the 16th and double bogeyed the last to allow Walton to halve his margin of victory.

But he preferred to look on his late mistakes as timely reminders of what he has to do this week.

He said: “It was a little bit disappointing to drop two shots at the last as I wanted to finish under par. It doesn't make a great deal of difference in the scheme of things but we have always got a little bit of pride to play for.
“When I birdied 15, I sort of lost my concentration for the last couple of holes, I'll have to watch for that, you always have to pay attention.

"In terms of my golf it has been great for me to play all the links shots I will need at Birkdale in a competitive environment.”

Last year Harrington reckoned that his Irish PGA win laid the foundation for his Open victory at Carnoustie.

But he does not believe his latest domestic success will give him a one-stroke lead over the field at Birkdale.

He said: "No. I don't think it puts me a shot ahead of anybody else but it will certainly save me shots and make my golf better next week. I don't think I'll be giving handicaps to anyone.

“I have still got to work a bit on my alignment. My shoulders were a little open and that is why I was struggling in a left to right wind. I am pretty much on top of that. Really besides that I won't be working on anything.”

After coming through Open qualifying at West Lancs last Monday and Tuesday, Walton was exhausted at the finish after playing six rounds of links golf in a row.

He said: “I was swinging all over the place there at the end and I'll have a few days rest now. I’ll be at Birkdale on Tuesday and I am really looking forward to it.”

After playing with him in the final round, Harrington is convinced that straight-hitting Walton can do well in his first Major appearance for a decade.

He said: "Philip played lovely golf as always. I'd like to hit as straight as he hits it. It is a big bonus for him. Birkdale is not a long hitter's course and he is very comfortable off the tee.

“That is one of the big features at Birkdale as Mark O’Meara proved when he won there in ‘98. You just want to be able to hit it very straight, over and over.”