Harrington, who is ninth in the Official World Golf Ranking, is not at his professional or mental best as the official start to the 132nd Open Championship nears.
Im certainly not 100 percent confident at the moment, he said. The last couple of weeks Im close to hitting it well, but I seem to be missing one part and so Im suffering a bit with my game.
Lack of confidence has always been an issue with the 31-year-old Irishman. Its always seemed others, like his teacher Bob Torrance, have had more faith in his abilities than has he.
If I had his confidence Id be OK, Harrington said of Torrance. Bob just says ' he just wishes Id go and do it without thinking too much about it. Obviously, thats the nature of me. I do tend to put a lot of thought into things and sometimes overcomplicate it.
Harrington has seven career European Tour wins, but also has 17 runner-up finishes ' furthering the notion that he often tends to get in his own way en route to the winners circle.
Last year was his breakthrough in terms of worldwide exposure. He had three top-10 finishes in the majors, including a tie for fifth in the British Open.
It was at Muirfield where he had his best chance for victory. He bogeyed the final hole, which, as it turned out, made him miss a playoff by a stroke.
Nonetheless, it was affirmation that he could win a major championship ' something many believe he will do in the near future.
For people to say that I should have won a major by now or that I should go and win one in the future, thats a big compliment. Ive come a long way for somebody to say that, Harrington said. I dont think someone would be saying it about me two years ago. It shows the game is going in the right direction.
'I'm held in very high esteem if that's what people are saying about me.'
Now, if he could share the belief others have in him.
PHIL TRYING TO FIND HIS FEEL
Phil Mickelson may have never won a major championship, but he has contended in each of the legs ' except one. While the lefthander has at least two top-3 finishes in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship, he has never cracked the top 10 in 10 prior appearances in the British Open.
His best finish came in a tie for 11th two years ago at St. Andrews. That year he came over a week before to compete at Loch Lomond, which he did again this time around.
I dont think it was a coincidence that my best performance in this Open Championship came in 2000, after playing in Loch Lomond the week before ' getting adjusted to the time, playing competitively. So I anticipate doing this pretty regularly now, adding the Scottish Open to my schedule, he said.
I feel thats the best way for me to prepare for a major, is to play the week before.
Mickelson tied for 35th in Scotland. It was another in a string of disappointing results this season. Now down to 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking, he has failed to earn a top 10 in his last eight worldwide starts.
Obviously, I havent had a great year, but Ive started to play a lot better, said Mickelson, who spent a couple of days with instructor Rick Smith before making the cross-continental trip.
We seem to have touched on a couple of things that have added consistency in my ball-striking, and given me a lot more confidence.
Im hoping to put it together. Hopefully it will happen this week. But if not, I feel like its much closer.
OH, CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
The golfing world will have to wait a little while longer to see who will match up against Hal Sutton as European Ryder Cup captain in 2004.
The decision, rumored to be announced this week, may be another month in the making. A committee is scheduled to meet Julr 23 to discuss the matter, but nothing more at that time.
Ian Woosnam, last years vice-captain to Sam Torrance, and Bernhard Langer, a 10-time team member, are the chosen favorites. But Sandy Lyle has also thrown his hat into the ring.
My name is in the pot for Ryder Cup captain, confirmed the 45-year-old Englishman. If I get it this year or the next few times, I dont know. I wouldnt like to leave it too long, because you tend to lose touch with your younger players, if youre not playing full-time in Europe.
Lyle, who won the 1985 Open Championship at Royal St. Georges and the 88 Masters, has played in five Ryder Cups, and was a member of the victorious 85 and 87 European teams.
Sutton was selected late last year to lead the American team in 2004 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
WHEN IN ROME
When an American makes his way abroad, there are a few things to which he must quickly grow accustomed: Time differential, driving on the left side of the road, a scant number of TV channels, washing machines without the complement of dryers and an obvious aversion to ice, just to name a few.
Of course, you have to make do. And Rich Beem is adjusting quite nicely. The reigning PGA champion arrived in Scotland Friday to become acclimated. He played the Old Course at St. Andrews a couple of times, and endeared himself to the locals by downing a few room-temperature beverages in the pubs.
I love coming over here. I think its very relaxing, he said, before adding, The beer is a little warm, but its not bad. The first one goes down a little stiff, but after that