"It’s a big deal for me as well" - Harrington

Padraig Harrington is anxious about what lies in store at Royal Portrush. icture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.iePadraig Harrington insists that fatigue will not be a factor as he bids to close a two-stroke deficit on Welshman Jamie Donaldson and claim his second Irish Open title at Royal Portrush today.

The 40-year old Dubliner is playing his seventh event in eight weeks and while he dismisses tiredness as a danger over the Dunluce Links as he tries to win on the European Tour for the first time since 2008, he knows that he will be fighting the same demons that have left leader Donaldson winless on tour in 244 previous starts.

“I haven’t won in a while either,” said Harrington, whose last win anywhere came in the Asian Tour’s Iskandar Johor Open in late 2010. “A win is a big deal for me tomorrow as much as it is a big deal for those guys.

“Just because I have won some big events in the past, it’s more significant that I have been on contention the last couple of weeks. So yes, I have experience of winning and I will draw on that tomorrow.

“But it’s a big deal for me as well, to go out there and win. It’s not going to be career-changing in any shape of form for me but in terms of momentum at the moment, a win is very important for me.”

Harrington was playing down his status as the title favourite. But the truth is that while he is ranked 69th in the world, only world number number 48 Rafael Cabrera Bello is ranked higher amongst the players in the top 10 starting today.

Winning the Irish Open for the second time since 2007 would propel him back into the world’s top 50 and put him in position to challenge for a seventh Ryder Cup cap.

Indeed, while he has three major titles and 26 professional wins worldwide, he would regard a victory today to be almost as special as his Irish Open win at Adare Manor five years ago; a triumph that launched him on a run that saw him capture three majors in 13 months.

Putting it in perpective, Harrington said: “With the size of the galleries, the atmosphere out here, the fact that it’s so unique being in Northern Ireland after 59 years, the fact that its on a class golf course like Royal Portrush, I think it would be a big deal winning tomorrow.”