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Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington has put a lot of thought into his approach for Open Championship Week. (Getty Images)

Harrington plans to aim high for victory

Padraig Harrington has already won the Claret Jug twice, but he's planning to go for his third with a completely different mindset about how to attack the hallowed Old Course. His radical approach, he says, is fueled by his desire to triumph at such a special place.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (PA) -- Two-time Open Championship winner Padraig Harrington plans to turn the perceived wisdom about links golf on its head for the 150th anniversary championship on the Old Course.

The general tactic on the coastal courses is to keep shots low, and bounce and run the ball onto the greens.

However, Harrington believes the undulating putting surfaces of the Old Course, combined with tricky pin positions, means such an approach will make it difficult to post a winning score.

Instead, despite the hard, dry conditions, he plans to fly the ball high in an attempt to avoid the numerous bunkers and get his approach shots closer to the hole.

"I am very familiar with the course but I do expect it to be slightly different, especially with the variations of the pin positions," said the 38-year-old. "I definitely think it is all about having a real good knowledge of the golf course.

"Everyone wants to jump on the train of thought that you need to be a big hitter to carry the trouble at St. Andrews,” he added. "You do need to avoid the bunkers off the tee but a straight hitter will be very long around there because the ball will run. There is no length issue but you have to drive it well. You have to have more control of your iron shots than most links golf courses.

"A lot of low balls won't be the right thing here because the pins are over or near bunkers or on downslopes, so you need really good ball control coming into the greens,” he explained. "When Tiger Woods won in 2005 it was more about him hitting his iron shots into the greens.

"This is not a week when I will be practicing hitting the ball low,” he said. “You can hit greens hitting it low but you won't hit it close."

Harrington won two Dunhill Links titles, in 2002 and 2006, on the Old Course, but expects a much more difficult task this week, even if the weather does stay fine.

"The two times I won there were in October and that is different," added the Irishman, who is a three-time major winner having added the 2008 PGA Championship to his two Open triumphs.

"It is No. 1 course on the Open rota, the No. 1 course in golf,” he said. "There are a few courses that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, and St. Andrews is an unbelievable place as it is the home of golf.

"Of course you would love to win the Open full stop, but it would be special to win it at St. Andrews,” he admitted. "I wouldn't give up the two other Claret Jugs, but it would be nice to win at St. Andrews."
 

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