Tuesday 20 February 2018

'Rory McIlroy is the only man capable of beating Dustin Johnson at the moment' - Padraig Harrington

Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy
Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Padraig Harrington believes Rory McIlroy is the only player capable of toppling Dustin Johnson at Augusta, if the world number one brings his 'A' game at next week's Masters.

The three-time major winner will not be competing next week after having surgery on a trapped nerve in his neck, which had resulted in him losing eight miles-per-hour in ball speed.

He expects to be back in action in 10 weeks time and revealed that his main aim for the season is the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the scene of his 2008 triumph.

"I'm kind of defending when it comes to Birkdale and the Open Championship," he told Game On on 2FM.

"I tried everything. I had three injections in my neck. I had all the physio. I had the rest periods and the problem was. it was actually getting worse.

"I knew I couldn't risk leaving it another month or two."

Harrington will be working with Sky Sports at Augusta next week and is looking forward to getting involved in broadcasting.

"I like to talk. People are going to have to listen, well I think they are.

"I'm really looking forward to it.

"I'm not retiring. I've sat in the booth once or twice before and I like doing it."

Dustin Johnson will travel to Augusta as the bookmakers favourite and Harrington feels he is the man to beat, but he also believes that McIlroy could be the man to do it.

"He (Rory) is the second favourite. At the end of the day, DJ is playing the golf of his life at the moment, he's peaked, he's really on form.

"There are a number of great players in the game at the moment but I get the feeling that they are all looking over their shoulder and looking at other players, worried about other players.

"When Tiger was number one in the world, he was never thinking about anyone else. He knew his 'B' game was going to beat everyone else.

"With the way DJ is playing, Rory is going to be under pressure to bring his 'A' game and that's tough enough. There is such a high standard at the top.

"DJ doesn't think very much, I don't think DJ looks over his shoulder. I don't think he worries at all. DJ is the moist likely one to play his game next week and if he does turn up and perform, he'll be the winner.

"Rory is the only one capable of beating him at this very moment."

Asked if he believes if Spaniard Jon Rahm, who Johnson beat to win the WGC Dell Matchplay last weekend, could win a green jacket at the first time of asking, Harrington said he believes the 22-year-old still has a lot to learn but tipped him to be a future world number one.

"This lad Jon Rahm... we're looking at a future world number one. We are at that level.

"We are looking at a European number one. This guy is going to play 10 Ryder Cups, he is going to be our top player in Ryder Cups.

"This is a big star for the future."

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