The Open: Padraig Harrington to fight inner tension ahead of Hoylake challenge
Last Updated: 15/07/14 9:39am
Former Open champion Padraig Harrington admits he needs to loosen up as he looks to rediscover his winning touch at Hoylake this week.
Harrington has not tasted victory in a top-level international tournament since the golden 13-month period in 2007-08 when he won back-to-back Opens and the USPGA Championship.
The 42-year-old has shown some encouraging signs of late by finishing in a tie for 14th at his home Irish Open last month and shooting a final-round 67 at the Scottish Open on Sunday.
Now he hopes to build on that and get back into a winning frame of mind for the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Harrington said: "It could be a little bit better - I am right in that mode of (when) things aren't happening for me and I'm trying too hard.
"I'd love to tell you that it's easy not to try too hard, but I am just a little bit too intense.
"Good results make it easier to be a bit more blase and when things aren't going so well there's far too much grinding, there's not enough freedom and ease in the round for sure.
"That's where I am at, I need to get my head around it.
"Getting to Hoylake, the temptation will be to try hard, I need to find the right attitude.
"It's very hard to be relaxed when things aren't going for you, but I am too defensive, just not letting it go.
The temptation will be to try hard, I need to find the right attitude.
"I don't mean I have a bad attitude, but I need to be a bit less intense about it. Obviously I always have been that way, but I am just over-trying a little bit."
Based on memory, Harrington expects the test coming up on the Wirral to be a tough one.
Harrington missed the cut by six shots the last time the Open was played on the Merseyside links in dry, hard conditions in 2006, and watched in awe as Tiger Woods won by two strokes.
Harrington said: "I just remember I was so scared putting the club on the ground, it was slipping.
"You lose your footing, there was only dust on the fairways. The fairways were quicker than the greens.
"It was in phenomenal condition but even for an experienced links player like myself, I found it scary. I hadn't seen anything like that for a long long time.
"I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was very green but it will be a good test no matter what."
Woods will command plenty of attention this week as he returns to major action for the first time since back surgery in March. The 14-time major winner missed both the US Masters and the US Open during a three-month lay-off.
Harrington believes the venue for his comeback is apt, as the scene of his greatest triumph.
"Nobody could have played the golf Tiger played that week," he said. "That was the best golf Tiger Woods has ever played."