Bill Elliott's Open Championship preview: Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington returns to defend his 2008 Open golf championship title and reclaim the Claret Jug. Golf Monthly's Bill Elliott previews the Irishman's chances

Of course one player who will be hoping the weather turns the nasty side of brilliant is defending champion Padraig Harrington. Padraig is that rarest of beasts, a star who tends not to act like a star. Personable and amiable, intelligent and aware, he fits into that ‘decent bloke’ mould perfectly. He has his flaws naturally, stubbornness once he gets an idea into his head being one of them, sidestepping the PGA Championship at Wentworth another, but he is approaching this Open with what appears to be the correct attitude.

Last year in Southport he deflected attention on his then defence by playing up a wrist injury and thus playing down his chances of victory. He likes to fly in under the radar and though this is no longer possible it is still what he will try to do.

Like all the other main contenders he has not played Turnberry much. For Padraig the first time was in late May and, apparently, he was not disappointed. “It’s a super course. It’s lived up to my expectations,” he said before briefly analysing the challenge now to be laid before him. “There are not a huge amount of opportunities out there, but a lot of steady holes with difficult par threes.

“From what I’ve seen on television and hearing what other people had to say I knew it was a great course and I really like what I see. I am well aware that Peter Thomson was the last man to win three Opens on the bounce but I feel that I’ll be in with a chance because I have control over my own preparation and if I get that right then I can be in contention.”

While Harrington is already assured of a seat at the game’s top table after winning three Majors in fewer years, a hat-trick of Opens would move him closer towards the epicentre of this elite dining group. Can he do it? Of course he can. Will he do it? That is less likely for apart from a growing group of younger rivals there is the renewed and reinvigorated presence of Tiger Woods to consider.

Editor At Large

Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill  was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.