Harrington hoping for more Magnolia magic

4/4/2013 12:23:00 PM
Padraig Harrington  (Getty Images)
Padraig Harrington (Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington is hoping to capitalise on his impressive form at the Majors by claiming his first Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament in Augusta National next week.

The Irishman’s record in the Major Championships last year proved that he was almost back to his clinical best in golf’s ‘Big Four’, finishing outside the top 20 only once while claiming a tied eighth finish at the Masters and a top five at the US Open Championship.

With two top ten finishes in five European Tour starts already this year, as well as a top ten finish on the US PGA Tour, Harrington has plenty of positives to take from the 2013 season thus far, but believes he needs to get his short game right if he is to have any chance of claiming a fourth Major title in Georgia.

“It would be nice to be in contention with nine holes to play on Sunday,” said the 41 year old. “I don’t care who I’m in contention with as long as I’m there, although Tiger is clearly the favourite.

“My wedge play is poor at the moment, and that’s essential at Augusta, so I’ve got to turn that around in the next couple of weeks.

“I broke my driver recently and that knocks a bit of confidence out of you. I really want to find something that I’m comfortable with between now and then, so they are two big doubts. But on the other hand I’ve seen some great positives in my chipping and putting, which were weak last year.

“At Augusta you want everything sharp, and certainly to be very confident in and around the greens. I see some light at the end of the tunnel there.”

While Harrington has claimed two Claret Jugs and the imposing Wanamaker Trophy at the USPGA Championship title during a long and successful career, he is still blown away by the magic of the Masters and recalls meeting one of his all-time heroes the very first time he stepped foot on Magnolia Lane.

“I just like being there,” he said. “The best memory I have is from the very first time I was there. I went up Magnolia Lane and got out of the car and walked through the clubhouse into the garden just out the front.

“The first people I met were the President of the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and he happened to be sitting at a table with Sam Snead.

“So literally the second person I bumped into at Augusta was Sam Snead. I hadn’t touched the grass at that stage – I was absolutely gliding. And then to meet Sam Snead, that was amazing. I don’t know where my head was for the rest of that day but it was very special.”

Having amassed four top ten finishes in 13 appearances at Augusta National, Harrington will be looking to better his previous best performances after twice finishing in a tie for fifth place – in 2002 and 2008 – as Tiger Woods and Trevor Immelman respectively prevailed.