Irish triple Major champion Padraig Harrington has confirmed he will play this year’s Irish Open at the classic links of County Louth, Baltray, from 14-17 May.
The 37-year old Dubliner will be seeking his second Irish Open title in three years over a course which he believes can serve the double purpose of helping him repeat his achievement of 2007 when he followed up his victory in his home national championship by winning the Open at Carnoustie.
This time around, Harrington will arrive at Baltray with his thoughts turning to a third successive Open title at Turnberry in July, and he believes that the classic links lay-out of County Louth Golf Club, or Baltray as it is more affectionately known, will provide the perfect launch pad to his preparations for his second defence of the Claret Jug.
Harrington hails the return of the Irish Open to a classic links, after several years inland. “I think that with this year's event being on a classic links course like Baltray, it could instil a lot of confidence and assist when looking ahead to Turnberry and going there to try and defend the Open again,” he said. “Playing the Irish Open on a links course will, in a way, naturally start my preparations for The Open because so many of the conditions will be similar." The County Louth course was designed by Tom Simpson, and has recently been adjusted by Scottish architect Tom Mackenzie.
“Baltray certainly is one of the most exciting links courses in the country and I expect the tournament there to be a great success. I would put the fifth as one of the best holes in the world. It's a superb par three at just 175 yards, not a beast, but a great golf hole.
“The seventh is another great par three and both are as good as you will get anywhere. I know the golf course well and I have a lot of memories. I can remember some tough days out there in East of Ireland Championships.”