Defending British Open
Champion Padraig Harrington used the Irish PGA club professional championship
last week as a warmup for the British Open. It may seem a little unfair having
one of the best players in the world competing against club professionals, but
ask those club professionals, and they’ll say they are thrilled that Padraig is
playing in their event. He has won it five times and uses it as a springboard
for the British Open. To Padraig it makes sense:
the Irish PGA has brutal conditions, wind and rain as well as one round that
took twelve hours to complete -- what better way to prepare himself mentally
and physically for the demands of his British Open defense? His win last week
also gives him a boost of confidence -- to an elite player, a win is a win no
matter the competition.
It is a tough year to pick
an Open winner when the No. 1 player in the world is not in the field, but
Padraig has as good a chance as any to take home the championship again. With
its added length, mounds and bunkers, and playing as a par 70, Royal Birkdale
will present a worthy challenge, but no more of one than Carnoustie last year.
With tough weather conditions expected, we may finally have a traditional
British Open that requires total control of the ball. Even though the reigning
champion has not had a great year, those who know him know he could contend again
due to his preparation and love for the Open, not mention having one of the
best short games around.
One key to links-type
courses like Royal Birkdale is avoiding the fairway bunkers at all costs. They
are true hazards that make it very difficult to advance the ball. I think the
European players are more aware of this danger because they are confronted with
these types of courses more often.
(Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)