Harrington: "I can win it if I do my thing, I don't need anything else"

Harrington: "I can win it if I do my thing, I don't need anything else"

Pádraig Harrington might be a 100-1 long shot for his third Claret Jug but the popular Dubliner knows he’ll never walk alone when he’s in Liverpool.

Down to earth Scousers and working class fans from west Lancashire have taken the 42-year old to their hearts.

And the spirit of The Kop — just 12 miles from the first tee at Royal Liverpool — could be just the tonic Harrington needs as he bids to capture that elusive fourth major.

Calling how he won his second Open title at Royal Birkdale, just 30 miles up the coast at Southport in 2008, Harrington said: “I was coming off the 13th, I think it was the second round, and maybe I’d just bogeyed the hole before, then some guy in the strongest Liverpudlian accent shouted ‘Cheer up. It’s not so bad. I’m a plumber and I’ve got to go to work in the morning!’ 

“It put things into perspective and it kind of sums people up around  here too — as in it’s very much a game for everybody round here.”

Sandwiched between the Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy groups in a threeball with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Korea’s KJ Choi, Harrington knows he can rely on the crowd to cheer him on.

He said: “It’s great. There’s a slightly Irish influence in it but when somebody with a strong Liverpudlian accent is cheering you on, it's nice. Yeah, it really does cheer you up.

"I suppose they like the Irish in Liverpool, that's it. Is it like playing in front of the Kop? At times that's what you're doing — and that's not leaving out the Everton fans either, I'll take them all! I don't discriminate!”

Harrington is more relaxed than he’s ever been at a major, not because he doesn’t think he can win, but because he’s done all he can to get ready.

Before he won those three majors, he would overdo things at the grand slam events, playing too many practice rounds and hitting far too many balls on the practice ground in an effort to cover all the angles.

Not this time.

”By the time I get to play here on Thursday I will have played 24 holes practice,” he said. “In 1999 I'd have played 54.”

The golf course does not frighten him but he knows he’s going to have to get off to a good start with scores expected to be lower than at most Open venues.

“I don't think anybody's out there thinking, 'Oh, I can't get around this golf course,'” Harrington said. “It's not too long for anybody, everybody will play most of their approach shots from the same place so it's a good test of golf but a very fair test of golf.”

Harrington form this year has been poor but all bets are off when it comes to a major because he’s got more experience than most and knows he can win another one.

Having failed to qualify for the Masters and the US Open, it’s his first major start since he missed the cut in last year’s US PGA at Oak Hill.

But with just one bad weather day forecast for Saturday, he knows he’s not going to get much help from the elements.

He said: “There's still a slight advantage but not as much as I'd get if it was a really tough week, certainly I'd want a couple of days to be difficult.

“That would play into my hands if we did get a few tough days but at the moment it's very nice.”

The cliché that form is temporary but class is permanent certainly fits the bill in Harrington’s case.

He knows that he doesn’t have to pull off a miracle to win, just find his A game.

"Clearly I need something to work but I ain't searching for anything. I'm not looking for anything at all, I'm ready to go.

If the truth be known, I haven’t putted very well in the majors in the last number of years
— Pádraig Harrington

“When I started winning majors it was because I realised that the game was within me to win a major, I didn't need a miracle. I didn't need to turn around and have 90 or 100 putts for the week.

"There'll be plenty of people who are capable of winning majors but because they haven't done it or haven't got there, they'll believe that's not for them, that they need something special to happen.

"I'm not saying you do need something special, but it's not ridiculously that far fetched to win a major.

"And once you realise that it's not that far fetched then all of a sudden it becomes a lot easier.”

Since his 2008 win at Royal Birkdale, Harrington has had chances to win the Masters and the US Open but his putting let him down both times.

"If the truth be known, I haven't putted very well in the majors in the last number of years and I'm not looking for a miracle week on the greens but you certainly have to putt well,” he said. 

“Clearly when I won other majors,  especially Birkdale, I didn't hole long putts. 

“But the fact is I holed more of those short putts in the wind where other guys were missing them.

"You know, you do have to putt really well to win while I'm certainly not going to win one with my B game, or if things aren't going for me, it's well within my capabilities to win it.

“I can win it if I do my thing, I don't need anything else.”

Harrington might fail to win the Open but he won’t fail to try.

“I can only do my best,” he said. “No more than that. I can't fail to do my best.”