Padraig Harrington might not have secured a renewal of his huge deal with FTI Consulting last month but he has not left the valuable space on the front of his cap blank.
The Dubliner was sporting the logo of his long-time equipment sponsors Wilson Staff on his headgear when he lined up for a group photo at the Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt in South Africa yesterday.
Harrington extended his deal with Wilson Golf in November but it remains to be seen if his Wilson cap is merely a stop gap while his agent looks for another big money replacement for FTI Consulting, who were reputed to have paid $10m for their three-year association with the three-time major winner.
A return to golf’s elite will ensure many more lucrative contracts for current world No 89 Harrington, who was last ranked a his career high of world No 3 on 15 February 2009.
Victory in this week’s elite event - it boasts a field of just 35 top players - would be a huge boost to his hopes to returning to the world’s top-64 in time to qualify for next month’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
With no halfway cut, it is open exclusively to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s schedule, the only exception being current members with more than ten European Tour victories - Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Retief Goosen and European Ryder Cup captain José María Olázabal.
Harrington will tee off with fellow three-time major winner Ernie Els in the second last group while Open champion Darren Clarke is out last with Masters winner Charl Schwartzel.
Alfred Dunhill Links and Madeira Islands Open winner Michael Hoey is paired with South Africa’s Thomas Aiken and a 66/1 with the bookies behind 5/1 favourite Louis Oosthuizen.
Harrington is what some might consider a tempting 22/1 chance while Clarke is a generous 50/1 following his run of mediocre form since his memorable win at Royal St George’s last July.