Padraig Harrington was said to be pleased at the announcement that he’s to play the first two rounds of the upcoming British Open, which kicks off this weekend, with Tom Watson (60) and Ryo Ishikawa (18).
Ishikawa is one of the most exciting talents in Japanese golf, and it’s thought that with a bit of maturity and development he’ll become the first Japanese person to win the coveted prize at St Andrew’s.
Harrington’s other partner for the first two rounds, Tom Watson, is an American golfer who continues to defy age by competing and faring well against opponents far younger than him.
Harrington spoke hopefully of his chances, though, at a press conference, commenting: "It’s nice to have won a couple of them and it would certainly be nice to win an Open at St Andrews," said Harrington. "It’s a good week to play well, it’s a good week to compete and it would be a great week to win."
Harrington seemed confident of the newly extended infamous 17th after a practice round: "It’s a tough test off the tee. It’s a 290-yard carry so you’ve really got to stand up there and hit your drive and hit it well. And it’s a tight fairway as well. The way I look at it, you always want to make sure that the guy who wins the Open is tested at some stage coming down the stretch. It’s a long hole and one you’re going to think about for 16 holes before actually getting through it," said the golfer.
Despite the course management having drawn criticism for some of this year’s amendments, Harrington pointed out that all changes must evolve over time and also noted that the course in fact used to be played from the greens to the tees.
"Since I’ve been playing the course, and that’s only since 1994, there have probably been ten new tee boxes," he went on. "I know 17 is high profile but this is the modern game. I say to those guys who are not happy with the new tee that they won’t be thinking about it in five years time, they’ll just see it as the hole that it is,” he added.
He also said that he was extremely happy and excited to be playing along veteran Watson and the young up-and-coming Japanese golfer, and didn’t try to hide his respect for Watson, who’s 60 years of age: "Tom has given a lot to the game of golf and I think that’s why people want him to win big championships," Harrington added.