British Open notebook

For Harrington, three majors just whet the appetite

Since winning the 2008 PGA, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington hasn't won on either the PGA or European tours.
Since winning the 2008 PGA, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington hasn't won on either the PGA or European tours. (Stuart Franklin/getty Images)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND -- Padraig Harrington counts two British Opens among his three major championships, but whatever confidence that comes with being tied for third in majors among active tour players is somewhat countered by his recent performances:

Since winning the 2008 PGA Championship, the Irishman not only hasn't won on the PGA or European tours, but he has finished better than 22nd in a major only once, a tie for 10th at last year's PGA.

"It's nice to have won a couple of" British Open titles, Harrington said Monday. "I should try and be a little bit more relaxed about trying to win a third one."

Harrington missed cuts at the 2009 British Open and this year's Masters. The issue, he said: Winning majors is addictive, and can cause him to grind too hard.

"I would defy anybody to find anybody who didn't enjoy their actual major victories as much as I did," Harrington said. "I certainly enjoyed them. . . .

"But afterwards, there is no question that one of the biggest issues with winning majors is the fact that you focus on them, you think about them, and you just want to go out and win another one. Having won the three that I have, it's all about winning the fourth. Well, I'm sure if when I had zero, if somebody told me I would win three, I would have said, 'Thank you very much. I'll take that.' But there's a certain nature of pushing on and pushing on, and that can be a destructive force."

Harrington has not played since June 27, when he tied for fifth at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, just his fifth top-10 finish in 14 tournaments worldwide this season.

Pairings unveiled

One of the highest-profile groups for the first two rounds boasts both Tiger Woods, who has won the past two Opens staged at St. Andrews, and Justin Rose, the Englishman who has won two of his last three starts on the PGA Tour -- including the AT&T National, which benefits Woods's foundation. That pair, along with Colombia's Camilo Villegas, tee off at 4:09 a.m. EDT on Thursday and 9:20 a.m. EDT for Friday's second round.

ESPN's coverage will begin at 4 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m. both Thursday and Friday, so Woods's full round will be aired.

There are several intriguing groups for the first two rounds, including five-time Open champion Tom Watson joining Harrington -- the Open champ in 2007 and '08 -- and rising Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa in the group immediately following Woods on Thursday. Masters champ Phil Mickelson plays with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, the captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team who earned his spot through a European qualifying tournament, along with South Africa's Retief Goosen. And three U.S. Open champions -- Jim Furyk (2003), Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and Graeme McDowell (2010) -- begin play together at 9:53 a.m. Thursday.

Steve Marino of Fairfax, who shared the lead with Watson midway through last year's Open at Turnberry, is in the first threesome off the tee, joining Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champ, and Frenchman Thomas Levet at 2:30 a.m. EDT. . . .

Two-time Open champion Greg Norman, who nearly won two years ago at Royal Birkdale when he took a two-shot lead into the final round, withdrew from the tournament last week. He was replaced by Australian Jason Day.

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