CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - Padraig Harrington, who won the British Open the last time it was staged at Carnoustie 11 years ago, believes a bold and fearless approach will pay dividends at golf’s oldest major this week.
With 13 par fours dominating the 18-hole landscape at the par-71 links course, the genial Irishman says the players with genuine title aspirations must occasionally take a gamble by going for their shots.
“You have only three par threes and two par fives, so you’re not given a lot of options,” Harrington told reporters on Monday. “There’s hardly a bunker on this course that you can play to the green from.
“They are all mini-hazards. If you’re hitting it in them, you’re just pitching out. You’re going to have to take some risk. You’re going to have to skirt by some bunkers.
“The beauty of the course is there are a lot of different ways of playing it, but eventually you’re going to have to grow up and hit the (bold) shots.”
Harrington’s playoff win over Spain’s Sergio Garcia in 2007 was his first in a major championship and ignited an exceptional run of form that also led to a successful British Open title defence 12 months later and a victory at the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship.
The 46-year-old says his hunger and motivation has not diminished over the years and he is tipping someone who knows how to plot a careful way around Carnoustie to finish top of the pile come Sunday.
“Links experience is especially important,” Harrington explained. “It certainly plays into the hands of guys who can thread the ball around.
“The great thing about this course is you cannot take all the trouble out. There’s no perfect strategy that eliminates risk.”
Even though American Jordan Spieth won the British Open at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, Harrington almost feels like he himself is the defending champion.
“It does make it a little more special when you are coming back here in that circumstance,” he said. “It’s always nice to be back in a place where you’ve played well.
“I will make the effort to enjoy myself. Hopefully that shows up because sometimes we do get our heads down as we are working. But I’ll make the effort to smell the roses this week.”
Editing by David Goodman