Padraig looks forward to The 3 Irish Open
Padraig today confirmed that he will challenge for The 3 Irish Open – the event he describes as his personal ‘Fifth Major’- over the classic links of County Louth, Baltray, from May 14-17.
Padraig is thrilled to be seeking his second 3 Irish Open title in three years over a course which he believes can serve the double purpose of helping him repeat his achievement of 2007 when he followed up his victory in his home national championship by winning The Open at Carnoustie.
This time around, Padraig will arrive at Baltray with his thoughts turning to a third successive Open title at Turnberry in July, and he believes that the classic links lay-out of County Louth Golf Club, or Baltray as it is more affectionately known, will provide the perfect launch pad to his preparations for his second defence of the Claret Jug.
“I think that with this year’s event being on a classic links course like Baltray, it could instil a lot of confidence and assist when looking ahead to Turnberry and going there to try and defend The Open again,” said Padraig. “Playing The Irish Open on a links course will, in a way, naturally start my preparations for The Open because so many of the conditions will be similar.
“Baltray certainly is one of the most exciting links courses in the country and I expect the tournament there to be a great success. I would put the fifth as one of the best holes in the world. It’s a superb par three at just 175 yards, not a beast of a hole but a great golf hole.
“The seventh is another great par three and both are as good as you will get anywhere. I know the golf course well and I have a lot of memories - I can remember some tough days out there in East of Ireland Championships.”
Padraig believes that his 2007 Irish Open victory, when he ended a 25 year wait for a home winner, played a huge part in him winning his first Open Championship.
“You couldn't underestimate how important winning The Irish Open was in terms of going onto win The Open at Carnoustie,” he said. “It told me that I could go and win a tournament under a lot of focus, pressure and distractions, which gives you a huge amount of self-confidence when you can come through something like that.
“The Irish Open obviously brings a lot of distractions, as many things are going on that week and you just have to accept it. It's not a week to spend a lot of time hitting shots on the range and trying to find your game. You just have to turn up and play with what you've got, doing the best you can.”
While the game’s four Major Championships are Padraig’s driving focus for the season, he places a huge amount of importance on The 3 Irish Open.
He said: “I think if you asked any golfer what the most important tournaments on the calendar were for them, they would all reply that the four Majors are above all others, but then, after that, I would think that every player has a desire to win their national open.
“It’s certainly a very big deal for an Irishman to win a national title in front of his home crowd. Our country really supports its sportsmen and women with unbelievable passion and I think that kind of support has helped so many Irish sports stars to achieve great success.
“I am very pleased to hear that 3 are sponsoring The Irish Open, I always look forward to playing my national open and hope I can repeat my success of two years ago.”
Robert Finnegan, Chief Executive of 3, said: "We are honoured and delighted to have Padraig Harrington playing in The 3 Irish Open. As a three-time Major winner Padraig is aiming to win his third Open Championship in a row this summer, and that is a sure sign that 3 really is golf's lucky number. We hope everyone gets behind Padraig at The 3 Irish open to demonstrate the huge support that exists up and down the country for our most decorated golfing hero."
Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “Padraig Harrington, the first European to win back-to-back Major Championships is a sportsman who has honed his talent to achieve true greatness. I am delighted this gifted and celebrated Irish golfer will participate in this year’s 3 Irish Open at Baltray. The links at Baltray which are among the best-rated in the world, combined with the support provided by the new title sponsor 3, will make The 3 Irish Open one of the most impressive and exciting events on The European Tour.”
Fans have the chance to make significant savings at The 3 Irish Open by taking advantage of advance ticket offers.
Season tickets to see Padraig and many of the world’s best players in action for four days over the classic links layout at Baltray, County Louth, are available at a 30 per cent discount if purchased before midnight on Sunday, May 10; while advance Daily Ticket purchases carry a 25 per cent discount on the Gate price.
Junior fans, under the age of 16, who are accompanied by a paying adult, will be granted free access to the tournament throughout the week.