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Harrington joins grand designers

Padraig Harrington is now joining some of the greats of the game including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as a golf course designer.

Harrington will be travelling to Malaysia tomorrow night to compete in next week's Iskandar Johor Open and while there he will inspect a former palm oil plantation outside of Kuala Lumpur that will be the site of his first signature design golf course.

The triple Major winner revealed this newest chapter in his career straight after carding a four-under-par 68 at the Old Course in St Andrews and on the second day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Harrington trails just one stroke behind fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell, who also signed for a 68 at the Home of Golf to be lying six strokes behind England's in-form John Parry.

Parry, who captured last fortnight's Vivendi Cup, moved four strokes clear of the field on 12-under par, while Sweden's Martin Erlandsson (68) is in second. Three players, Spain's Alvaro Quiros (69) and the winning Ryder Cup duo of Martin Kaymer (69) and Ross Fisher (68) are tied in third place.

Harrington was expected to play next week in the Portugal Masters, an event where he finished third last year behind Ryder Cup-winning colleague, Lee Westwood. Instead, he is joining European team captain Montgomerie and South African Retief Goosen travelling to Malaysia.

Harrington is no stranger to Malaysia, having contested eight Maybank Malaysian Open titles from 1999 to 2006, and finishing runner-up in both 2000 and 2001. And while Harrington is looking forward to a first journey to Malaysia in four years, he's also thrilled at the thought of leaving his "fingerprint" with the creation of his first 18-hole designed course.

"I am going to compete, but really I am out in Malaysia to design my first golf course," he said. "It has not been officially announced nor does the course I'm designing have a name, but it's just outside KL, (a place) that has some great golf courses and where I've played in many Malaysian Opens.

"I'm very excited and I'll go out and inspect the site next week and I'll be out that way next month for the Barclays Singapore Open, so I will do some more work. I've played quite a bit in Asia and when someone came along and approached IMG, I jumped at the idea."

In fact, Harrington's course will be one of two being developed on the site, as defending Johor Open champion KJ Choi of Korea is designing a second venue. "I've always been a student of golf courses and who designed them, and though I don't have any favourites, I just like them all," said Harrington.

"Hopefully I can design a golf course that is very playable for handicap golfers and really tough for the pros.

"But it's just going to be so nice leaving your fingerprint on a parcel of land and that's the most exciting aspect."

And when asked if he thought professional golfers make good golf course designers, Harrington responded: "No, they don't necessarily make the best golf courses, and that's for sure.

"But that's not to say they can't design great golf courses. All I know is, I am looking forward to designing the course, as it's an exciting new part of my career."

Harrington returns to Carnoustie today for the third round of the Dunhill event, and the venue of his 2007 British Open triumph.

Rory McIlroy joins Harrington at Carnoustie, but only after a poor display on the Old Course at St Andrews. McIlroy could manage just two birdies, at the fifth and final holes, but also recorded a sixth-hole double-bogey and two other bogeys in a 74 for a share of 65th place to lie on one-over-par.

"I just didn't make the most of my opportunities on the downwind holes, which was pretty disappointing, but I enjoyed myself out there today and that's all you can ask," he said.

Dunhill Links Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 1.30

Irish Independent