All eyes are on defending champion Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods at the US PGA today.

The pair, who teed off at 9.35 a.m., are shaping up to be one of the biggest rival pairings in golf.

In fact, the two are just coming off an epic battle at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone last week.

Harrington is one of the few golfers with the mental fortitude to stay focused when Tiger gets his teeth in.

On the front nine last Sunday most golfers would have been overwhelmed by Woods’s start (one eagle and three birdies on the fron nine) , but Harrington didn't buckle, and instead mounted a back nine charge of his own that was only undone with a triple bogey on the 16th.

After the round, Woods suggested that the referee - not Harrington - played a role in Harrington's demise.

Woods, who has won the US PGA four times, believes that Harrington is his true competition.

And Harrington, whose swing has been under scrutiny for some time, says he is playing well enough to beat him.

"I'm quite capable of performing well enough to win this week," he said.

Harrington, who beat Woods in a dramatic play-off in Japan in 2006 say Woods needs to be pushed.

“When it was all over, I found myself remarking that Tiger really wants to be pushed, no matter what. After hitting a great chip to save par on the 17th, I could sense his excitement, his focus. Sure he wanted to win, but he also wanted to be pushed. He wanted the competition.”

For one reason or another, that competition has not materialized from other top players. Woods and Phil Mickelson have peaked at different times and with Mickelson’s wife Amy suffering from breast cancer, the leftie’s priorities lie beyond the course.

Ernie Els has never been the same player since he injured his knee a few years back, and Retief Goosen has also had swing problems.

Vijay Singh hasn’t contended in a Major in some time and the likes of Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia still have to win major tournament.

Two other possible candidates are Jim Furyk and Geoff Ogilvy, but neither are multiple major winners, which cannot be said for Harrington.

What makes the Harrington factor more intriguing is that he won two of his majors while Tiger was injured. The big question at the time was whether he could win when a fully rehabbed Tiger was in the field.

Harrington’s swing problems this season have postponed any real answer to that question. The Dubliner really feels that it will be in six months time before he is the finished article.

However, is the last week is anything to go for, when the two are on form and in contention, sparks fly.

Will they become the new Watson/Nicklaus of their time? Every golf fan would love to see that happen.  Keep an eye out at Hazeltine this week to see if things ignite again.

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