Patient Padraig! Harrington happy to wait as Irishman vows to get back to winning ways
Padraig Harrington, down to a shocking 89th in the world, expects to win more majors in his career. Not just hopes to, but expects to.
'That's a big, strong word, but I do – yeah,' the 40-year-old Dubliner said at Fancourt in South Africa, where his season starts with the Volvo Golf Champions.
'I didn't have a great year last year, but it doesn't worry me in the greater scheme of things because I know you just can't win them every year.
Positive Padraig: Harrington is ready to start his season at the Volvo Champions
'You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn – and, like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once.'
Three years ago Harrington became the first European since 1906 to make a successful defence of the Open, then a month later became the first European to win the USPGA Championship since 1930.
Last season, though, the best he did in the majors was 45th at the US Open and missed cuts at the Masters and Open accelerated his slump down the rankings.
'When you look at Nick Faldo it took him 20-25 years (as a professional) to win six – the most by any European (of modern times).
'I'm not foolish to believe that because I won one in 2007 and two in 2008 I should win three in 2009, or even another one.
Warming up: Harrington in at Fancourt action on Wednesday
'They don't come around that easy. Even in my era the greatest player since I've been a pro – Tiger Woods – has not won one a year. There have been plenty of years he has not won any.
'People have this idea that just because you play well and you win one you should be doing that every year.
'That's the hardest thing. It definitely puts a big burden on anybody who wins a major, it really does. There's a lot of expectation that goes with it.'
Now 15 months on from his last tournament victory, Harrington has done a lot of analysing things and still took positives out of last season.
'I sorted out a neck injury that plagued me for 10 years, then found something in my mental game and got to the bottom of something in my swing which had been annoying me for five years.
Two good: Irishman Harrington has twice won The Open
'But the reality is that we are judged by our results – I certainly do when I watch people playing sports – and I have to accept that results last year were poor.'
What he must have found particularly disappointing on realising it was that on the PGA Tour in America he went backwards in every final round, whereas in 2008 he had gone forward every time.
With the world's top four of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer all deciding not to play – they along with Woods start in Abu Dhabi next week – this week is a golden opportunity for him to stop the slide and start climbing again.
A field restricted to European Tour winners since the start of last season and those with 10 or more titles on the circuit is only 35 strong.
With the Ryder Cup in mind as much as anything else, Harrington desperately wants to be back in the world's top 64 for next month's Accenture world match play and the top 50 for the Cadillac world championship in Miami two weeks later.
Big Easy: Another major winner Ernie Els is also in the field at Fancourt
A win on Sunday will achieve the first of those, although the cut-off point for Tucson is not for another three weeks.
Defending champion Paul Casey is another absentee, having dislocated his shoulder snowboarding.
Harrington does not criticise the world No 20 for taking to the slopes in Colorado.
'You wouldn't function as a person or a golfer if you don't live your life,' he said.
'Any accident is unfortunate and some people may think why take the risk, but if you sat in a hotel room or at home looking at four walls you wouldn't be a very good golfer. You have to live your life.
'I don't ski because I didn't grow up skiing. If I had I would see no reason not to. I'm not going to take up a sport with inherent dangers, but you shouldn't stop doing the things you love doing.'
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is the only player in the game's top 25 taking part, but also present is Open champion Darren Clarke, three-major winner Ernie Els and past and present Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal.