Padriag Harrington has no fears about playing alongside Tiger Woods at this week’s Masters as the spotlight comes down firmly on the world number one.
Harrington is one of the European favorites for the event, but acknowledges that the Tiger factor will be huge this week.
“From the point of competing to win the Masters, the less stressful a week I have the better,” said three-time major champion Harrington.
“But from an interested point of view I’d like to be in the same group and watch what’s happening and see it all and analyze and probably learn something from it.
“It’s nice when you can go into any tournament and prepare without having any outside expectations. There has been a lot of talk about Tiger’s return.
“There’ll always be a lot of talk about Tiger and it does take a little bit of the pressure off the rest of us. It will help other people go about their business.”
As Woods prepares for his comeback, Harrington expects no special treatment for the headline maker from his fellow pros.
“I’ll be interested myself as an outsider to see how he reacts on the golf course and what his personality is on the golf course, see how his confidence is,” added the Dubliner.
“I don’t think anybody can tell but him how it’s going to go down, and he’s not going to be 100% sure. A lot of people talked last summer that he looked irritated on the golf course. You’ve got to think that’s going to be gone.
“There’s going to be a huge release of tension. If he three-putts the first green, I still think he’ll have a smile on his face walking to the second tee.
“Players play very well when they have that relaxed attitude to their golf. Even his own expectations are going to be reduced compared to every other time he tees off. That could help him.
“The lack of competition is going to be difficult, but he’s one of the best players in the world for competing without competition because he’s done it so many times in the past.
“Over time I think things will get better and players will look at his performances and worry about that much more than anything else.”
As for his own chances, Harrington will tee off in confident mood on Thursday as he seeks a first green jacket.
He added, “It comes down to trusting my routines and possibly being a little bit less defensive. The last thing you want to be doing is coming down the back nine of The Masters not having felt the competitive pressure for three or four months.”