Irish Eyes Affixed on Harrington


04 Nissan Irish OpenOne of the deepest fields thus far on the 2005 European Tour schedule gathers together for the Nissan Irish Open at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Carton House Golf Club in Ireland.
A total of seven players from Europe's victorious Ryder Cup squad will be on hand and none more popular in this area than Ireland's own Padraig Harrington.
Harrington, who finally notched his first-ever PGA Tour win earlier this year at the Honda Classic, returns home to try and break a dubious streak that has lasted for 22 years. That is how long it has been since an Irishman has claimed the country's most prestigious title, a feat last accomplished by John O'Leary in 1982.
Joining Harrington in Kildare will be Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, England's Lee Westwood and a pair of former champions in Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Clarke, who has juggled his golfing schedule while caring for his ailing wife, has played some wonderful golf as of late. He posted both a second and fourth place finish in back-to-back weeks in the U.S. before this past week's tie for eighth at the Dunlop Masters in England. His final round 67 included a rare double eagle 2 at the par-5 third hole.
Jimenez, who led the European Tour last year with four wins, has not quite kept up that kind of torrid pace but has visited the winner's circle once already during the 2005 campaign, that coming at the Omega Hong Kong Open.
After a couple of top-10s early in the year, 32-year-old Westwood has stumbled of late. After missing the cut at The Masters, Westwood has posted dismal 74th and 50th place finishes in his last two events. He did, however, have an 11th place showing here in 2003.
Olazbal, a winner of this event in 1990, has had an impressive early part of the year with four top-10 showings on the PGA Tour. He hasn't however, had a victory since the 2002 season.
Montgomerie, who the course was named after following its opening in 2003, is also a three-time winner of the Irish Open. He had back-to-back victories in 1996 and 1997, with his last win coming in the 2001 event.
The Golf Channel will have live coverage of the Nissan Irish Open beginning Thursday at 10:00 a.m. (ET).
A purse of $2,525,000 is up for grabs with $421,000 going to the winner.
Last year, Australia's Brett Rumford posted a 5-under 67 on Sunday to cruise to a four-shot win, his second career victory on the European Tour. He beat out local favorite Harrington and Raphael Jacquelin by four strokes.
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  • Full Coverage - Nissan Irish Open