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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ireland's own pin-up boy - (source: The Daily Mail Online)

Everywhere they could possibly stick a poster, you will find one featuring Harrington. And, as Caroline, Padraig’s wife recently discovered, that really does mean everywhere.

Harrington chuckles when he recalls what happened when they were at Dublin airport recently. "I think she'd just about got used to seeing posters featuring me all around town, but then she went to the bathroom and there was one on the back of the toilet door," he said. "I think it fair to say she found that very off-putting."

Being the face of Irish golf brings its own distractions when the Ryder Cup comes to town for the first time.

Harrington could only dream it would all come to this when he turned pro 10 years ago. While Tiger Woods immediately set off at the same time in search of his destiny, Harrington was wondering whether he would be able to pay the bills.

As he wryly put it, in that modest way of his that explains his popularity: "The extent of my ambition was to keep improving and hope that one day I would be good enough to become a journeyman golfer."

What gave him hope then is the thing that makes him such a key member of the European team this week: his prowess at matchplay.

"I turned pro on the strength of what I did playing for Ireland at matchplay," he said. "I never lost a singles match and, given that all the players I was beating were turning pro, I thought: why not me? Even now, I think my focus is so much better at matchplay than at strokeplay.
European captain Ian Woosnam may spring a surprise but it will be a shock if Harrington's two partners on the first two days are not familiar faces — Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley.
"Two different types of partners you could not wish to meet," Harrington said, grinning.

'It's absolutely right the Cup is coming here'

"I've played with Monty in the last two Ryder Cups and he's great. All you have to do is make sure you keep his spirits up and you have a partner who is all but unbeatable.

"I think the K Club is an awesome course for a matchplay event, and far better than for a strokeplay occasion," he said. "The risk-reward element of the last three holes is going to make it very exciting. There couldn't be a better place to play it."


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