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Bad news for Tiger Woods: Links tournament practice is key to Open victory, says Padraig Harrington

 

Been there: Padraig Harrington has won two Open titles
Been there: Padraig Harrington has won two Open titles

By Phil Casey

Padraig Harrington believes anyone serious about winning The Open should be playing at least once in the fortnight beforehand - which could be bad news for Tiger Woods.

Woods did not play between winning his 15th Major title in The Masters and missing the cut in the following month's US PGA, and nor is he scheduled to compete between the US Open and The Open at Royal Portrush.

"I personally think if you're serious about winning The Open you've got to be playing tournament golf at least two weeks before it," said Harrington, who lifted the Claret Jug in 2007 and 2008, ahead of the Irish Open.

"You'd rather be playing links golf and being in a tournament than just on your own, so if you're serious about trying to win The Open you should be playing at least one, if not two, of the events running into it.

"Some guys don't want to play three weeks in a row. Some guys feel like they peak after playing one tournament. Other guys feel like they peak after playing two. We're all different in that sense.

"I was always mightily impressed when Tiger Woods would play in a Major without playing the week before. I'd be a basket case if I didn't.

"Different personalities, completely different. But I do think links golf is different.

"You're giving up some shots if you don't get out on a links course and play links golf in the couple of weeks coming up to it, in my opinion.

"There's no better way to understand your clubbing than when you've got a card in your hand and if you under club there's a little bit of pain and you remember it."

Harrington suffered real pain from a wrist injury at the end of last year which kept him out until March, and the three-time Major champion has slipped to 291st in the world after three missed cuts in his last four events.

"I've had a number of injuries through overwork and over-practice, and every time the minute I've been cleared to go back I'd get back on the course and go, 'Yeah, I'm ready to go'," the Ryder Cup captain added. "This one has been a lot harder. It's now July and it feels like it's January to me. I just haven't got going.

"I haven't played enough competitive rounds. I haven't been on the course enough."

Meanwhile, Ian Poulter comes in having missed the cut in two of his last three events, but is relishing playing seven events in the next eight weeks.

"I kind of planned to have a quiet season this year," Poulter said. "We were thinking 20 events; 28 is on the calendar.

"Playing two tours, playing the Majors, WGCs, looking at all of the good events you want to play, it's hard to start chopping tournaments away.

"Hopefully I've recharged the batteries a bit in the last few weeks before having another push again before taking time off at the back end of the season."

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