Open Golf: Exclusive interview with Padraig Harrington

Golf Equipment

The two-time champion on the near miss at Muirfield in 2002 and a curious Open record...

How do you look back at the 2002 Open at Muirfield when a par at the 72nd hole would have got you into the play-off?

No, I mean I had a great chance in 2002 and it was probably the best golf that I’ve ever played tee to green and it probably still is to this day.

I walked away from it thinking that the way I’d played was an anomaly. I couldn’t come to terms with it or grasp how I’d physically managed to play as well that week, even though I putted very badly.

I needed a par to make the play-offs, and I, like everyone else, had gotten blown away a little bit in the storm. So many things went wrong for me that week – yet a par down the last would have been enough to make the play-off.
When I looked back at your major record since 2008, I was surprised that your record in the American Majors is very good, but your record at the Open since 2008 is quite modest – why do you think you’ve been worse at the Open than at any other Major?

If you look at my average record then the US Open is probably the one that I do best in, and yet you’ve got to think that that has to be the most unsuited event for me ever.

I’m not about hitting fairways and greens and the US Open asks that question. I can’t explain why I wouldn’t be as good in the Open having won two, and my game hasn’t changed that much.

The US Open and PGA are similar enough now, and maybe it’s because I was full time in the States before that as well. It’s hard to know why.

I laughed about the US Open because as much as you would say that US Open golf courses don’t suit me, when it comes to the competition I have no problem on that style of golf course.

The Masters is a tough event full stop and you’ve got to drive the ball well throughout the week at Augusta. With the Open you can get a couple of bad draws and that can take a couple of years out but it wouldn’t take all five of them out.

Who knows, maybe I’m just building up for this year. There’s no rhyme or reason and I’m certainly not focused more on the Masters or the US Open.

 As far as I’m concerned then yeah, in a perfect world if I were to win two more Majors then I’d pick a Masters and a US Open, but I know golf is not like that and I’d be happy to win any Major and not be choosy about it.

So it’s not because I’m trying to gear my game more for the US Open, it’s just the way it is.
So many things went wrong for me yet a par down the last would have been enough to make the play-off You’ve now played in 15 Opens, and at all the venues multiple times with the exception of Muirfield. Do certain venues suit your eye better than others and if so which ones?

This is my first time going back to Muirfield since 2002 and I liked it then, but I think everyone likes Muirfield so I don’t see that I have an advantage over the other pros. If it’s a fair golf course then it’s a fair golf course.

Sometimes I don’t mind going to a golf course that everyone is moaning about because it reduces the number in the field, but you don’t tend to get that at Muirfield and everyone likes it.

I don’t really know much about Muirfield and it’s a long time since I played it – but I’m hoping that when I go back there that whatever clicked in place in 2002 and I’ll like it as much this time around.

It suits my eye and I certainly don’t want to play any better than I did then.
I could do with putting a bit better than I did in 2002, but tee to green that’s probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played.
How good are you at adapting to the conditions?

You are trying to play whatever golf course the weather delivers. So if you turn up and it’s burnt and it’s basking in sunshine, and the ball is running a mile and there is no rough then so be it.

If it turns up and it’s a wet spring with heavy rough then so be it – we’ll see what we get. T

he Open is the one to play the most unpredictable of all the Majors. If you want to experience what a golf course is really like then the Open is the one that can change from year to year.

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