From Brian Keogh at Royal Birkdale

Ladbrokes take a hit

Bookmakers Ladbrokes paid a major price for their role in Padraig Harrington’s successful Open Championship defence.

The famous firm sponsored the Irish PGA at The European Club two weeks ago, where Harrington honed his links game and used that experience to retain the Open title with an incredible final round performance.

The bookmakers paid around €35,000 to sponsor Harrington’s defence of the domestic championship but the Dubliner’s form attracted punters in their thousands, costing Ladbrokes an estimated €1 million.

Ladbrokes Ireland spokesman Donal McCarthy said: “With all the talk of Harrington's injury scare you would have thought punters would have held fire but that wasn't the case in Ireland and our industry top price of 20-1 proved extremely popular in our shops.”

Harrington is now 16 - 1 with Ladbrokes to win a hat-trick of Open titles at Turnberry in Scotland next year and 14-1 to win the USPGA title at Oakland Hills in August.


Rankings jump feels good

Padraig Harrington jumped from 14th to third in the latest world rankings and confessed that he feels better than ever about his status in the game.

The Dubliner, 36, equalled his career high of sixth last year when he claimed the Claret Jug for the first time but now only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are ranked ahead of him.

Harrington said: "I got to sixth in the world before and wasn't comfortable there. Just kind of, ooh, I'm sixth in the world and I'm not good enough.

"I'm more comfortable at third than I was at sixth. So I have improved as a player, and I'm continuing to improve as a player. That's the main thing for me."

Up to fourth in the Order of Merit, just €269,626 behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez, he will be bidding now to claim the Harry Vardon Trophy for the second time since 2006.

As for the money, his winner's cheque for €938,565 boosted his career earnings in Europe to €18.3 million and his career earnings worldwide beyond €30 million.


Harrington heads to Akron
Padraig Harrington will head to the US on Sunday for next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron and the following week’s US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in Detroit.

But the only thing certain following the Dubliner’s second Open is that he will become an even bigger star around the world.

Already a massively popular figure, the player and his management company IMG stand to benefit considerably from Sunday’s victory.

"It will help secure endorsement deals and make him more marketable to the right kind of companies,” his agent, Adrian Mitchell, said yesterday.

Harrington sported a new logo on his hat during the Open with property giants Oceanico taking out a timely one-tournament deal that paid of handsomely.

But Mitchell revealed that there is more space on the left side of his shirt and a new contract with club manufacturers Wilson, due to lapse on December 31st, is also being discussed.

Judging by the amount of calls he received yesterday, Mitchell is preparing for a busy few weeks, explaining: "My phone has not stopped. I had to replace some memory on my phone because people weren't able to leave messages.

"There was a message for me when I woke up at six and I went to bed at four so you can imagine."


Party animal

Padraig Harrington had a private party for his friends and family at Dermot Desmond's Dublin city centre gaming club, The Sporting Emporium, last night.

But he didn’t forget to celebrate his second major win in style on Sunday night, partying until 4am with his entourage at the house IMG traditionally rents for Open week.

Harrington even repeated his 2007 celebration by drinking John Smith’s Extra Smooth bitter out of the Claret Jug, grinning: "I went to the IMG House. IMG, my management company, have a hospitality house where all the players go round and eat during the week.

"I don’t know if it’s tradition now but they throw a party on Sunday night for the winner anyway. There was a good crowd in there last night. I think I was last out of the place at 4am so we had a very good night. A lot of friends there. It was a nice night. Not over the top.

"John Smith’s Smooth bitter was the first drink we drank out of the Claret Jug again. I did empty the Claret Jug at the end of the night and there was still some claret in it at that stage. So the right drink got into it eventually."

Harrington was congratulated by phone by President Mary McAleese but did not reveal if he received a text message from Tiger Woods.

He said: "I haven’t looked at the e-mail yet. I’ve had over 100 text messages and a phone call from the President.

"I've had a few funny ones but I aint telling you those ones. I haven’t got through them all. There’s none that stand out at the moment. Well, there is one, but I’m not telling you about it."


What now for Padraig
Agent Adrian Mitchell has not yet had time to sit down and plan Harrington’s end of season schedule.

But after moving up 31 places to ninth in the US FedEx Cup points list, he is certain now to qualify for the four event Play-off series.

Harrington will play at least two of the first three play-off events in New Jersey, Boston, pr St Louis before heading to Valhalla for his fifth Ryder Cup from September 19-21.

The final event, the Tour Championship, takes place after the Ryder Cup but Harrington will be busy in October as he is also eligible for the $1.35 million PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which will be held at The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda from October 14-15.

US Open champion Tiger Woods will be absent through injury but Harrington is exepected to be there alongside Masters winner Trevor Immelman and the player who wins the US PGA in two weeks' time.

The fourth member of the fourball will come from an order of merit of past major winners, currently led by Phil Mickelson.

However, Harrington’s participation in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, scheduled for November 27-30, has yet to be decided.


One-handed challenge

Padraig Harrington can drive the ball over 300 yards using just one arm, so it should be no surprise that he could win the Open with an injured right wrist.

In practice, the Dubliner regularly hits drives using just one arm and he revealed yesterday that he is currently engaged in a long-driving battle with his caddie Ronan’s older brother, Kit Flood.

“If you practice a lot, you will find ways of practising to keep it entertaining, to keep it moving on,” Harrington said. “The more time you spend practising, the more drills and little things you come up with.

“One handed practising is something I was brought up and told to do. Henry Cotton supposedly hit it 250 yards left handed. He recommended hitting a tyre, I think that is too hard. I hit into a bean bag and hurt my hand, I will be lightening that bean bag.

“I have a friend who I grew up playing golf with (Kitt Flood) who I have an on-running competition with this year. I think he is a two handicap.

“I have a competition that I can beat him one-handed against his two hands in a long driving competition. So that just keeps me entertained.

“I have another bet with somebody that I can break 170 ball speed. I reckon that I can break 180 ball speed one-handed.

“It is just entertainment, keeping me going. But there is a little practicality behind it, working on strengthening my right side and my left side and working on the speed of my right side and left side.

“Everything has a purpose. The only time I practice anything, as silly as it may looks, is to try and improve my golf. I never waste any time. It is always about improving my golf. So I feel those one-handed shorts help me to become a better player.”

Asked how far he could drive the ball using just one arm, Harrington said: “This is going to sound ridiculous, but I can hit it one handed farther than I can hit it two handed on a normal shot.”



1 Tiger Woods (USA) 19.50

2 Phil Mickelson (USA) 9.68


4 Adam Scott (Australia) 5.54

5 Ernie Els (South Africa) 5.53

6 Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 5.40

7 Sergio Garcia (Spain) 5.36

8 Stewart Cink (USA) 5.33

9 Steve Stricker (USA) 5.22

10 Jim Furyk (USA) 5.04



1 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) €1,707,702

2 GRAEME McDOWELL (Ireland) €1,580,913

3 Robert Karlsson (Sweden) €1,578,492

4 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Irleland) €1,438,076

5 Lee Westwood (England) €1,433,080

6 Henrik Stenson (Sweden) €1,396,279

7 Oliver Wilson (England) €1,139,406

8 Ross Fisher (England) €1,084,203

9 Trevor Immelman (South Africa) €1,050,723

10 Martin Kaymer (Germany) €1,006,880

11 Jeev Milkha Singh (India) €901,413

12 Ian Poulter (England) €829,195

13 Retief Goosen (South Africa) €802,196

14 Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) €791,617

15 James Kingston (South Africa) €780,822

16 Vijay Singh (Fiji) €770,194

17 Richard Finch (England) €766,789

18 Søren Hansen (Denmark) €763,907

19 Colin Montgomerie (Scotland) €731,981

20 Scott Strange (Australia) €686,526



European Tour career earnings

1 Colin Montgomerie (Scotland) €23,474,257

2 Ernie Els (South Africa) €21,735,031

3 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Ireland) €18,394,520

4 Retief Goosen (South Africa) €18,142,613

5 Darren Clarke (Ireland) €16,102,721

6 Lee Westwood (England) €15,455,331

7 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) €13,790,895

8 Bernhard Langer (Germany) €12,517,913

9 Thomas Bjorn (Denmark) €12,504,363

10 Vijay Singh (Fiji) €12,437,031

11 Angel Cabrera (Argentina) €11,539,709

12 José Maria Olazabal (Spain) €11,477,649

13 Sergio Garcia (Spain) €11,072,753

14 Michael Campbell (New Zealand) €10,990,227

15 Robert Karlsson (Sweden) €9,764,699

16 PAUL MCGINLEY (Ireland) €9,762,143

17 David Howell (England) €9,674,770

18 Ian Woosnam (Wales) €9,570,678

19 Ian Poulter (England) €9,494,566

20 Paul Casey (England) €8,839,702




(* indicates qualifying positions)

World Points List

1 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Ireland) 238.64*

2 Lee Westwood (England) 229.18*

3 Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 200.02*

4 Robert Karlsson (Sweden) 194.05*

5 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 192.36*

6 Sergio Garcia (Spain) 189.80

7 Ian Poulter (England) 173.21

8 Justin Rose (England) 170.36

9 GRAEME McDOWELL (Ireland) 166.03

10 Martin Kaymer (Germany 149.95


RYDER CUP - European Points List

1 Lee Westwood (England) 2,141,552.72

2 Robert Karlsson (Sweden) 2,087,550.28

3 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 2,005,780.63

4 GRAEME McDOWELL (Ireland) 1,899,335.72*

5 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Ireland) 1,763,740.27

6 Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 1,640,824.60

7 Søren Hansen (Denmark) 1,340,921.93*

8 Oliver Wilson (England) 1,326,431.56*

9 Martin Kaymer (Germany 1,316,335.15*

10 Justin Rose (England) 1,272,327.75*