On the eve of his title defence at The Irish Open, Padraig Harrington reflected upon the importance of his victory 12 months ago.
The 36 year old cannot stress how important his victory at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort last year was in the grand scheme of a season that saw him add The Open Championship to his Irish Open crown.
Harrington took a huge mental step to overcome all of the distractions attached to being Ireland’s Number One player trying end the 25 year wait for a home winner of The Irish Open last season.
“You couldn't underestimate how important winning here was in terms of going onto win at Carnoustie,” said Harrington as he put the final touches to his title defence preparations.
“It did give me a lot of self confidence winning here, kind of against the run of things in terms of preparation and things. It told me that I could go and win a tournament under a lot of focus, a lot of pressure, a lot of distress and a lot of distraction and that gives you a lot confidence when you can come through something like that.
“I was so confident afterwards that when The Open came around at the right time, I still had that element of self confidence, but wasn't losing my patience.
“I felt comfortable here all week last year. Once the tournament started I was very happy with my game, and I think I started nicely and just felt assured that I would be in the mix at the end of the week.
“As the tournament progressed, I felt comfortable that I was going to be on top of the leaderboard and that was kind of it. I thought the outcome was totally within my own hands.
“You don't often get that feeling on a golf course, because I didn't find the course difficult last year. You get those tournaments only a couple of times a year where everything seems easy to you and everybody else seems to be struggling, so I was very much in the zone last year, very comfortable on the golf course.”
Harrington missed the cut at the US PGA Tour’s Players Championship last week, but he is not the kind of man to dwell one poor performance coming into defend his National Open Championship.
“I always analyse my week gone by and work from them,” he continued, “but I'm not going to hang myself up on missing a cut. That's going to happen. You know, you've got to put that down to these things happen as you go along. If you're going to be a professional golfer, you're going to expect that things are going to against you and it's going to happen.
“I don't see it having any effect on this tournament. I'm motivated with The Irish Open. To be honest, it has zero effect on this week. It would have an effect on a regular tournament, but not when you're coming into a big event."