Monday 20 November 2017

Harrington willing to take US Open qualifier route

Padraig Harrington is determined not to miss the Irish Open at Fota Island
Padraig Harrington is determined not to miss the Irish Open at Fota Island

Brian Keogh

Jet lag would be a welcome problem for Padraig Harrington when he arrives at Fota Island for the Irish Open from June 19-22.

As things stand, the 42-year old is not qualified for the previous week's US Open at Pinehurst No 2 and while he says he'd rise from his "death-bed" rather than miss an Irish Open, he insists he'd endure the agony of playing in the US Open Sectional Qualifying at Walton Heath on May 26, if necessary.

"Absolutely, 100pc," said Harrington. "The last time I played in a qualifier for a Major was for the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. "It was at Panmure and I qualified too. It was the only time I have ever played a qualifier for a Major, because I never tried as an amateur."

While he's exempt for the British Open and the US PGA until he is 60, the Dubliner's run of 14 straight Masters appearances could end if he doesn't win on the PGA Tour or return to the world's Top 50 by March 31.

As for the US Open, his 1999 absence is his only blank since he first qualified in 1998 and, as he has yet to qualify for two Majors and four World Golf Championships, all of which count on both tours, he is struggling to meet the minimum 13-event requirement for European Tour membership, not to mention 15 events in the US.

He said: "A win sorts out everything. A win puts me back in the top 50, The Masters, the Matchplay or Doral and you are in a position where if you play well, you are going to make the Ryder Cup team. It's straightforward.

"I will find it hard to play my 13 in Europe if I play average. If I play badly or I play well, it won't be a problem."

"If I play average, I am going to have to play more events. If I play badly I won't be in the big events in the States, so I can go back to Europe to play.

"And if I play well, I will get into the events that count double. If I qualify for the US Open or the Masters, it takes two events away. So, it is an issue for me."

He heads to the US for a three-week run on Sunday knowing that a win in the Waste Management Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am or the Northern Trust at Riviera would all sort out his ticket for Augusta and a return to the world's top 50.

As for the Irish Open and the move to Fota Island, he knows there's no chance that he or any of Ireland's other major winners would skip it.

"I will crawl out of my death bed to play it. It is the nature of it and I believe the other guys will too."

Irish Independent

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