Sport Golf

Saturday 3 December 2016

Padraig Harrington hopes St Jude is on his side for US Open bid

Published 09/06/2015 | 02:30

Padraig Harrington needs a win this weekend to qualify for the US Open
Padraig Harrington needs a win this weekend to qualify for the US Open

Saint Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes, but Padraig Harrington refuses to concede defeat as he prepares for a last-gasp effort to qualify for the US Open Championship at Chambers Bay from June 18-21.

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Harrington, 91st in the world, needs to be inside the top 60 after the St Jude's Classic which starts on Thursday at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.

The three-time Major winner had hoped to reduce the pressure by a strong performance in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down, but his weekend performance fell well short of his own expectations.

Basically it's you-know-what or bust this week, and Harrington appreciates the scale of the challenge.

"I'll be looking for a big performance there," he said speaking ahead of this week's tournament.

"I know the course. It's a big ask at the end of the day to go out there and win a tournament on demand, but we'll have to give it a chance."

Therein lies the problem. Winning a tournament 'on demand' is a very difficult and virtually impossible situation.

If it was easy, we'd have a plethora of home winners of the Irish Open, especially in the most recent staging at Royal County Down.

Harrington has played the US Open 16 times from 1997-2013 inclusive, and missed out on qualifying only twice - in 1998 when he was still a young professional, and in 2014

His best finishes were in 2000 (tied 5th), 2002 (tied 8th), 2003 (tied 10th), 2006 (5th on his own), and 2012 (tied 4th). So much for the past. Harrington just wants to look towards the future and do all he can to join the field in Chambers Bay.

And what would he give for a victory this week?

David Lingmerth, the Swedish-born golfer who beat Justin Rose in a play-off to win The Memorial on Sunday knows the value of a win, not just in terms of pride or bank balance, but also for a world ranking.

Lingmerth started out last Thursday 212th in the world. Yesterday he was 71st and, ironically, his win did not get him straight into the US Open, which meant he had to travel to Columbus, Ohio to take his place in the sectional qualifying as scheduled.

From a position of being hailed by thousands around the 18th green at Muirfield Village, Lingmerth had a gallery of around 25 people as he played his first of two rounds, starting at 7.20am local time.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell, 2010 US Open champion, joins Harrington in the St Jude's Classic ready to tune up his game for Chambers Bay.

He took the week off after Royal County Down and hopes to bring the positives from his visit home for the Irish Open to TPC Southwind and into next week.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy, who followed McDowell to US Open glory in 2011, won't play this week as he continues preparations for the second Major of the year.

Shane Lowry and Darren Clarke, the other two Irish players heading for Chambers Bay, are also taking a break before going to Seattle.

Closer to home, The European Challenge Tour will return to Ireland for the first time in six years when the Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa and Golf Resort takes place at the prestigious Carlow venue from October 8-11.

Tetrarch Capital, the new owners of the resort, also stated that Mount Wolseley will host the tournament in 2016 and 2017.

Irish Independent

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