Harrington Relishing Tougher Test Of Defending US Senior Open Title

Padraig Harrington is relishing the tougher test the US Senior Open will provide than the usual "pleasant" PGA Tour Champions events

Padraig Harrington successfully defended his Dick’s Sporting Goods Open title
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The globetrotting Padraig Harrington is relishing another tough week as he defends his US Senior Open Championship title in a change from the usual “pleasant” events he plays in on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.

Harrington could not arrive in better form after a flying finish going seven-under in his final seven holes saw him defend his Dick’s Sporting Goods Open title - and he'll be hoping for a similar story at the US Senior Open.

Far from turning 50 and moving to the PGA Tour Champions as a retirement plan, Harrington has had a new lease of lift since joining the senior ranks.

The 51-year-old credits getting back involved in the sharp end of tournaments for his resurgence, which has seen him mix it with the PGA Tour young guns at the Majors this season, with a T50 finish at the PGA Championship and T27 at the US Open.

Harrington says there’s “nowhere near the stress” playing in a senior event compared to PGA Tour events and Majors, but he’s finding the mix and a busy schedule is helping his game.

“I played, I think, 33 events last year,” said Harrington. “That's right up there with anybody. I think I'm used to the traveling back and forth. I usually come for two or three weeks and then go home, three weeks normally.

“I think the Champions Tour are very pleasant to play in. There's nowhere near the stress at a Champions Tour event. It's three rounds. It's very relaxed. Tee times are normally in the middle of the day. It's just a very pleasant play.

“So they're enjoyable. There's no grind at those in the sense that a regular event can take a lot more out of you.

“Of the regular events, I've tended to play the tough, challenging ones, the likes of Bay Hill, the likes of Honda, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and those. Obviously they're harder mentally and physically for me, but, again, I've got to an age that I can recognize these things and manage myself.

“There's a lot more time spent in the physio unit than there would have been 20 years ago, I'd say. I probably don't - I practice a lot when I'm at home, but when I'm at tournaments now I've definitely toned it down a bit.”

As he looks to defend his US Open title, Harrington says that playing tough PGA Tour events and Majors gives him a competitive edge not just in his game but also dealing with the increased mental strain of a senior Major.

“The tougher the golf course, the more I like it," he added. "The heavy rough, it's not playing as heavy as LA Country Club, but it's heavier than Oak Hill was at the PGA.

“I think that always plays into a Major tournament, that you're being tested physically, clearly, but you're also being tested mentally, emotionally out there. Can you handle what would seem like bad breaks.

“It’s going to be a mental test.”

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.