Harrington preparing for more success at Royal Birkdale
With less than three months to go until the world’s best players battle for the Claret Jug at The 146th Open, two-time Champion Golfer of the Year, Padraig Harrington, has his sights squarely set on his return to Royal Birkdale.
The 45-year-old Irishman was reunited with the Claret Jug in Dublin on Tuesday, and fondly recalled lifting the historic trophy in 2008 at the venue for this year’s Championship.
“There’s a lot of great memories. When you’re 15 years of age and you’re dreaming about winning The Open, how I won at Birkdale is exactly how you would dream about it. It had everything you wanted,” he said.
After earning his maiden major title a year earlier at Carnoustie, Harrington played through a wrist injury and testing conditions at Royal Birkdale to win by a four-shot margin, becoming the first European to successfully defend The Open title since James Braid in 1906.
“It’s always the most exciting when you win your first major, but Royal Birkdale was very satisfying. I knew I was injured going into it, but I was one of the best players in the world. I played great that week – there were no mess-ups.”
He is looking for a repeat of his success across the Southport links when the Championship returns to Royal Birkdale for the tenth time this summer, and is currently in recovery mode following neck surgery six weeks ago to treat a trapped nerve. He is aiming for a return to competitive golf later this spring at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.
Though his 2008 injury wreaked havoc with his preparations for The Open, he solidified his place amongst the golfing greats when overcame adversity to lift the Claret Jug a second time. Can he do it again this July?
“I’ve got great intentions, that’s for sure. I feel like I’m in a great place with my golf. There’s no doubt that all my practice, when I do get going, will be thinking about The Open.”
Royal Birkdale has been the scene of many memorable victories through the years including Arnold Palmer’s first Open triumph in 1961 and Australian golfing legend Peter Thomson’s first and last of five wins in 1954 and 1965.
The course’s spectacular natural dunes spread throughout the links make it the best of The Open’s host venues for spectator viewing, setting the stage for a sensational atmosphere when the biggest golfing stars from across the globe return from 16-23 July.
“Every time you tee it up in The Open, it's a special occasion, it really is,” said Harrington. “There's something about an Open Championship, the heritage, traditions of it. There's an excitement about being there."
“Every single person going into an Open Championship is thinking, you know, I can get the wrong side of the draw here. Mayhem could happen. You could get some crazy things happening, and the excitement of that, of good and bad things happening. I just love the idea of being tested mentally, as you do at The Open.”
The 146th Open is one of the fastest selling in history and fans are encouraged to secure their tickets early. The Spring Ticket Promotion is on now and fans can save £5 when paying with a Mastercard. Tickets can be purchased here: www.TheOpen.com/Tickets