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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – Padraig Harrington ‘it’s brought it back to where it should be. I use the word “should”; not really should be, where we would like it to be’

At 45 Padraig has accomplished at lot since turning pro in 1995 and is out to accomplish more. He is much respected in his home country of Ireland, testament by the fact he has won not once but 3 times the RTE Sports Personality of the Year.

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (credit; Causeway Coast Community News)

Padraig is a past winner of the Irish Open back in 2007 when the tournament was held at Adare Manor but hasn’t managed to win the tournament since. He has however won the Open in 2007&2008 and the US PGA in 2008.

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Despite considering Portstewart Golf Course as one of the best in the country and links courses is where he feels most at home, Padraig has never played the course up until now. So what did he think of it?

It’s a very nice course, very pleasant, really enjoyable course. Obviously spectacular all the way through the front nine. I thought the back nine, actually, was — we heard so much about the front and back nine here. I thought the back nine was excellent. Probably tougher. Some great holes on that back nine. Even though my favourite hole on the course is 6, the little par 3, the simplicity of it. Fantastic golf hole.

Yeah, a lot of spectacular holes on the front nine. A lot more challenging holes on the back nine. That’s how I saw it yesterday in the wind. Obviously I have to play the tournament before I fully understand the golf course, but certainly a very enjoyable golf course. And I’m glad that we’re here playing The Irish Open on it and it’s giving me the opportunity to play it under tournament conditions.

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On the back of a season that has seen Padraig suffer injury after injury he commented on the turning point in his gameplay the previous summer.

My game had turned the corner last summer. I started playing really well, striking the ball well. Had it well under control around The Open last year.

Obviously the injury at the Olympics just curtailed the end of my year. Then came out with the operation and everything, having only played 25 rounds of golf since November — 25 rounds of competitive golf, it really just hasn’t got started because I haven’t been competitive. I need a run of events. There’s obviously — I can’t be fully ready. I just haven’t played enough golf.

My game feels good, yeah. As I said, I liked when I see in my game. I just like to get out on the golf course and play a bit more and get a bit more tournament ready competitive. But there’s no reason why it can’t add up to a winning performance this week or in any week at the moment. I did throw a win in in Portugal last year and that was in the middle of the injury.

Now that it’s cleared up, you know, it’s just a case of getting out on the golf course, being competitive, sharpening the game up, and you know, I would have seen that happening through the four rounds at Travelers two weeks ago. So hopefully I’ll still be ready to go Thursday.

Again, I’m certainly not using this as a practise week, but if this week doesn’t go as to plan, I have next week and then The Open. So hopefully I’ll be absolutely ready when it comes to The Open.

Asked about the Irish Open and its current position alongside the talent it attracts and the prizefund, Padraig was sure of where it “should” be.

We’re where I suppose we want The Irish Open to be. There was a time, I think it got to the stage that we kind of expected The Irish Open to be there. Clearly that was proven wrong over the last, say, ten years, 15 years. Thankfully with Rory and The Rory Foundation and the effort he’s put in, it’s brought it back to where it should be. I use the word “should”; not really should be, where we would like it to be.

But we should never take it for granted. It takes a lot of effort to put a $7 million event on, and we shouldn’t forget those times in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, whenever, when the tournament was being propped up by The European Tour. I heard a lot of people at the same suggesting it wasn’t a stature of a tournament that the Irish Open should have been. But the game of professional golf, or certainly in organising tournaments, you can take nothing for granted. Nothing deserves to be anywhere by right. It has to be earnt.

Without the Rory Foundation and Rory putting an extraordinary effort in behind the scenes, we wouldn’t have the event we have now. All the players appreciate that. But I think the Irish players, particularly, appreciate it because we would like to have one of the best events in Europe. But we’re not conceited enough to believe that it’s our right. It has to be earned.

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