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Padraig tamed Tiger -- now he catches up with cheetah


Padraig Harrington has mauled the Tiger in his time, but Ireland's three-time Major champion got up close and personal with a real cheetah in South Africa yesterday.

Harrington's hands are his biggest asset, winning him nearly €40m in prize money, but he didn't give it a second thought when offered the chance to get his picture taken patting the big wildcat.

Others were not so brave . . . or foolhardy.

"No way, I like my hands too much," quipped South African golfer Garth Mulroy when asked if he'd like to stroke the cheetah, guest of honour at the opening ceremony for this week's Volvo Champions golf tournament at Fancourt Links in the Western Cape.

The cheetah merely purred and turned to look at Harrington as the Irishman stroked its back.

Even with its handler keeping a tight grip on the lead, Harrington's right hand might have ended up in the kitty litter had the big cat taken a sudden dislike to him.

"I considered it worth the risk," the Dubliner grinned.

In the background, Ryder Cup skipper Jose Maria Olazabal merely shook his head and laughed at the Irishman's audacity.

Tomorrow on the links at Fancourt, situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Harrington begins in earnest his bid to fight his way out of a slump and win his place on Olazabal's team next September in Chicago.

The Irishman makes his 2012 European Tour debut in a field which includes British Open Champion Darren Clarke and his fellow Ulsterman Michael Hoey.

Irish Independent