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Saturday, July 19, 2008
For the past fifteen or so years, most of the top players in the world have played in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond the week before the Open Championship. Its proximity to the Open venues and the rich purse make it an obvious choice for preparing for the Open.
However, with Padraig Harrington's victory last year and his continued success this year, will players change their schedules and sign up for the Irish PGA Championship? Harrington won it in 2007 before hoisting the Claret Jug, and he won it again last week at The European Club. It makes more sense to prepare in Ireland than Loch Lomond, as Loch Lomond is not a links course. The Tom Weiskopf-designed track is American-style on Scottish soil.
Playing four rounds at a course like The European Club sounds to me like a prudent way to get into a linksy groove. The Irish PGA Championship does not offer world ranking points, but if it can increase one's confidence heading into the Open, who the heck cares about the points?
If I'm Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, or anyone else who plays most of my competitive rounds in the U.S., I'd be changing my plans for 2009 and enter the Irish PGA to get ready for Turnberry.