Mickelson expects Harrington to challenge

Phil Mickelson hopes Padraig Harrington can gatecrash his planned final round showdown with Tiger Woods.

And that’s because the exciting left-hander has such massive respect for Ireland’s three-time major winner.

Mickelson arrived at Augusta with two wins in his last four starts and the chance to take over from Woods as world No1 if he wins his third green jacket this week.

But also he expects teak-tough Harrington to be in the mix up for the title on Sunday night.

Looking ahead to a possible clash with Woods, Mickelson said: “Well, I would love to be in the same group as him and walk down together on Sunday, if we are in the final group.  I don't want to be third off.

“Hopefully we will both play well.  For that to happen, we have 54 holes where we have to play great golf.  I don't think that's a question for him.  I think he's playing some great golf and I think he's going to be there.

“I think that I've been playing some of the best golf of my career and I believe I'm going to be there, too.  Hopefully there will be some other key players like Padraig Harrington who is going for his third major championship in a row, which is an incredible feat."

Woods is regarded as the best pressure putter in the world, but Mickelson points to Harrington as a man who revels in tough conditions and knows how to get the job done under pressure.

Asked to pick the kings of pressure putting, Mickelson said: “You're going to initially pick either Tiger or Jack, and that would be a pretty accurate assessment I would assume, given over time how many clutch putts both of those players have made.

“But Padraig is a guy that when he does get there, he seems to get it done.

“I have always seen him as a tough competitor, somebody who is steady and who is a great wind player, who is a great putter in the wind and is a great clutch putter.

“That's what he's been doing the last couple of years to win his three Majors.  I think that the players have always seen that in him the last couple of years; the public has, too.

“He seems to really shine in difficult conditions.  He's so steady, doesn't make mistakes and he's such a clutch putter that I think he always seems to excel in difficult conditions.”

Harrington is determined not to worry about what Woods or Mickelson are doing and that’s a view shared by the world No 1, who also has huge respect for the fighting Irishman.

Woods said: “I think the whole idea is to handle your own business and on Sunday, see where you are.

“ Paddy is going about it the right way and we all know he's been a wonderful player.

“It was just a matter of Paddy winning his first Major, you knew that was going to happen, and he has the game to win more.  And lo and behold, he wins two last year.”