Friday, 19 March 2010
The Masters - Preview Day 2  (Getty Images)
The Masters - Preview Day 2 (Getty Images)

All Majors are eagerly-awaited, but some are more eagerly-awaited than others - and the Masters Tournament starting tomorrow is unquestionably one of those.

Padraig Harrington tees off at Augusta National in mid-morning with a chance to go where only Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods have gone before.

Hogan at Carnoustie in 1953 and Woods at Valhalla in 2000 won three Majors in a row.

Harrington will be in hallowed company indeed if he can emulate them, but the difference for The Open and US PGA Champion - and it is a big one - is that he has had eight months rather than just a few weeks to think about the possibility.

He does not have the momentum Hogan and Woods had and it would be truly remarkable if he matched their achievement.

Harrington, without a top ten finish in his last seven events, admitted: “It's hard to win something totally out of the blue, you have to be somewhat building your form into a tournament.

“In terms of preparing I've done it as well as I can. It doesn't mean I've done it right, but I've prepared as well as I can.”

In contrast to Harrington, the prodigiously talented Spaniard Sergio Garcia is still waiting to land his first Major Championship.

The Spaniard, who will play his 11th Masters this week, has only twice finished in the top ten on his previous visits to Augusta.

Many thought the lengthening of the course might help his chances, but he has missed the cut three of the four years since his fourth place in 2004.

“I think it used be a little more enjoyable than it is now,” said Garcia. “It used to be all about the shots to the greens, the shots around the greens and the putting.

“Now it’s too tight. Before at least you could relax a little on the tee - the challenge was from the second shot on.

“You still have that, but it’s even harder because you have to drive really well too.

“Initially I felt good about the changes, but over the past four or five years I’ve felt a little less comfortable. I think it’s just a matter of working at it, loosening up and just letting it happen.

“We’ll see how it goes, but I’m certainly looking forward to playing it again.”

If Garcia is looking for inspiration ahead of the event, he need look no further than defending champion Trevor Immelman, who landed his first Major in last year’s Masters Tournament.

The 29 year old South African held off the challenge of World Number One Tiger Woods to claim the Green Jacket, but admits he is unsure how he will cope with the heightened expectation this time around.

“In some senses I still don't think it's sunk in,” he said. “I've been announced as the Masters Champion a few times and every times it's goosebump stuff, just an incredible feeling.

“The first few holes are going to be tough because I'm going to have to quiet my mind and settle down as fast as I can. I'm going to need to find a way.”

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