Irish Eyes Look to Smile


2004 Linde German MastersReturning to the site of victory always brings a smile to a players face, particularly when hes the defending champion.
Every shot he hits during a practice round brings back fond memories. Everyone he encounters either congratulates him for what he did a year ago or wishes him well for the week to come.
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington won last year's tournament by three strokes over Nick O'Hern.
Padraig Harrington will experience such things this week as he returns to Cologne, Germany for the Linde German Masters.
And he could use a positive experience.
Harrington is a man who naturally smiles more often than not. But that facial expression has lately been masking much sadness and a little frustration.
Harringtons father, Patrick, died the Monday of the Open Championship, succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer of the esophagus. Harrington withdrew from the seasons third major and then returned the next week to tie for 40th at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.
He missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but said that he was coping as well as could be expected with his personal tragedy. And since leaving Baltusrol, things seem to have gradually gotten better professionally.
Harrington tied for 24th at the WGC-NEC Invitational and tied for 16th in his most recent start, at the BMW International.
Though he has yet to win on the European Tour this season, Harrington has secured two victories in the U.S. His playoff triumph over Vijay Singh at The Honda Classic was his first on the PGA Tour. He added to that with another dramatic win over Jim Furyk at the Barclays Classic.
Harrington has accomplished quite a bit in his 10-year professional career. In addition to his two PGA Tour wins, he has nine victories on the European Tour, as well as three consecutive Ryder Cup appearances.
The one thing he has yet to do, however, is defend a title. And it wont be easy to do this week.
The Linde German Masters features a top-notch field consisting of the likes of Retief Goosen, 2000 champion Michael Campbell, Thomas Bjorn, 1998 winner Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Mark Hensby, 1988 champ Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.
Theres also the fact that no one in the tournaments 18-year history has ever won in back-to-back years.
Germanys own Bernhard Langer is the only player to win multiple titles. He will be back at Gut Larchenhof in search of his fifth career victory.
There are only five full-field events remaining on the 2005 European Tour schedule. The top 60 players on the money list qualify for the season-ending Volvo Masters. The top 115 players on the final money list earn their 2006 tour cards.
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