Padraig Harrington's preparations for the new season received an unexpected boost when he was named the recipient of the Jim Murray Award from the Golf Writers’ Association of America.

The 38-year-old was honored for his excellent relationship with the media and his willingness to accommodate requests and cooperate with press.

No doubt he could offer his mate Tiger a tip or two on how to deal with journos, but there certainly seems to be a wave in the golf world that see Harrington as the man who could make the most hay in the Tigerless sunshine.

Let’s just take a look at what has happened lately

Thumbs up from a golfing legend

Jack Nicklaus has come out saying that Padraig could be the man to do it (check it out here).

Transparency with the press

If he has had any issues outside the golf course he has been upfront about it. (He admitted he lost some money in a recent investment, and the media just gave him and award for cooperation).

Proven track record

It also augurs well that Harrington can walk the walk. He has three majors in the bag. Oh I know, so has Phil Mickelson, and Mickelson is arguably a more talented player. I hear you. But Mickelson has his own off course battle in helping his wife and mother–in-law in their fight against cancer, so the famous leftie might not be able to fully concentrate on his golf, and understandably so.

Ernie Els also has three majors, but he has never been the same after knee surgery. Vijay Singh also has three but has not won a major since 2004.

So of the multiple Major winners on tour right now, Harrington’s ship seems to the steadiest.

Best placed golfer in Top 10 to make a move in 2010

Here is a list of the Top 10 in the golf world rankings:

Tiger Woods: He’s out of the game for a while. Trouble at home

Phil Mickelson: See above

Steve Stricker: Bumper year in 2009 though no majors and wrong side of 40

Lee Westwood: very solid golfer and probably best golfer after Monty and Sergio not to own a major title

Jim Furyk: Stuck on one major win, though Furyk ended the 2009 season with a win.

Padraig Harrington: Tweaked his swing after three major wins, 2010 could be a big year.

Henrik Stenson: Talented Swede could make breakthrough

Paul Casey: Up there with the best not to win a Major, needs one to move to the next level

Rory McIlroy: 20-year-old phenom will get better and better

Kenny Perry: Majorless, blew it at the Masters but enjoying an Indian summer in his career

Harrington basically sacrificed the 2009 season in a bid to retool his swing. In the last two months of the season, the Irish golfer started to find form again, and came close to winning on several occasions.

Crucially, his confidence started to return and even at the lowest point of his 2009 season, the Dubliner kept on talking about the bigger picture. Now that he seems to have gotten over that hump, 2010 might be the year that his labors bear some major fruit.

Looking at the top ten right now, there is no other player better positioned to make a charge as the season gears up with the sport’s best player on indefinite leave.

What do you think?